Noem plans to use emergency and disaster money to pay for border troop deployment

Gov. Kristi Noem’s funding source for a troop deployment to the U.S.-Mexico border is the state’s Emergency and Disaster Fund, a revelation that caused a top-ranking legislator to criticize the plan and question its legality.

Noem announced the impending troop deployment Thursday in a news release, saying she plans to send at least 50 National Guard soldiers to help secure the nation’s southern border this summer. She and 12 fellow Republican governors are responding to a request for assistance

Eight supervisors, seven years: The 'challenging' Black Hills National Forest

The Black Hills National Forest has its eighth supervisor in the past seven years, and if recent history is any indication, he probably doesn’t fully recognize what he’s up against.

Carl Petrick, most recently the supervisor of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, won’t stay long in his new Black Hills post. He’s an acting supervisor, like five of the prior seven people in the job.

His predecessor, departing Acting Supervisor Bryan Karchut, said during a recent public meeting that the Forest

Rule change would make foreign purchases near Ellsworth reviewable

When a Chinese company was on the verge of building a corn milling plant last year near an Air Force base in North Dakota, people concerned about national security wondered why the federal government hadn’t stopped it.

As it turned out, a federal committee tasked with reviewing foreign investments in the U.S. lacked jurisdiction over the area around Grand Forks Air Force Base.

After Congress passed a law in 2018 empowering the committee to review foreign purchases of real estate near sensitive

New state grant program aims to lure last-minute summer tourists

RAPID CITY — Gov. Kristi Noem announced the creation of a $200,000 grant program for tourism businesses Wednesday at Reptile Gardens in the Black Hills.

Noem cited industry data indicating 91% of this summer’s travelers already have their trips planned. She wants the grant money to help South Dakota businesses target the remaining 9% of travelers.

“We want to make sure those that have a change in plans or haven’t decided yet, that they decide to come and visit us,” Noem said.

The Tourism Adve

Tardiness in recognizing water needs could lead to 'unacceptable consequences'

As recently as nine years ago, I thought Rapid City had enough water for decades to come.

I got that idea from covering an event in 2014 where then-Mayor Sam Kooiker spoke.

“Unlike many other cities in the West, Rapid City does not have a water supply problem,” he said, adding that the city of 73,000 had “enough water in this area to serve more than 170,000 people.”

Time and new developments have altered that impression.

Four years ago, I reported on a study commissioned by the West Dakota W

Grants could add 2,400 openings at child care centers

Money from the federal government could soon help add about 2,400 openings for kids at new and expanding child care centers in South Dakota.

The money comes from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, which Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed into law in 2021. The legislation was a response to the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state Department of Social Services is making $17 million of remaining funding from the law available as startup and expansio

Public tells Forest Service to expand proposed mining ban in portion of Black Hills

RAPID CITY – Dozens of people told federal officials Wednesday that they not only support a proposed ban on new mining-related activity in a portion of the Black Hills, but also want the ban expanded.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management hosted a four-hour public input meeting at the Rapid City Ramkota Hotel. Beyond the dozens who spoke, hundreds attended, and most appeared to support the proposed mining ban.

The ban would cover about 32 square miles encompassing the Pacto

Noem is just like her father in good and bad ways

Gov. Kristi Noem shares a lot of stories about her late father, Ron Arnold, that are intended to portray him as the South Dakota embodiment of John Wayne. Noem doesn’t seem to realize that with every story she tells, she’s also creating her own public psychological profile.

Recently, she spoke to a National Rifle Association gathering in Indianapolis, where she shared a memory of hunting with her dad when she was 10 years old.

They were stalking elk in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains when he told

Congressional Roundup: Thune wants to rein in electric vehicle incentives

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the latest installment in a series of periodic updates on the activities of South Dakota’s congressional delegation.

Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, says the federal government gives too much help to the electric vehicle industry.

Automakers can tap into the Department of Energy’s $40 billion pool for loans and loan guarantees to lower the cost of electric vehicle production. Buyers are also eligible for up to $7,500 in tax credits.

Thune calls that “double dipping.” T

When emails aren't 'writing,' and other adventures in pursuit of pardon records

EDITOR’S NOTE: This commentary about public records is part of a special report on executive clemency. Additional stories explore pardons and commutations.

As a journalist with more than two decades of experience, I thought I’d experienced every way a bureaucrat could make a public records request difficult.

That was until I asked for pardon records from the South Dakota Secretary of State’s Office.

It all began in December, after Gov. Kristi Noem announced seven sentence reductions – formall

Parolee cited for exhibition driving after Noem reduces vehicular homicide sentence

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story about commutations is part of a special report on executive clemency. An additional story explores pardons, and a commentary outlines difficulties encountered in obtaining pardon records.

A man who committed vehicular homicide in the 1990s pleaded guilty to exhibition driving last summer, six months after a state board granted him parole and two years after Gov. Kristi Noem reduced his prison sentence.

That’s one of the outcomes of 12 sentence reductions – formally kn

Congressional Roundup: Thune proposes permanent estate tax repeal

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the latest installment in a series of periodic updates on the activities of South Dakota’s congressional delegation.

Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, introduced legislation last week to repeal the federal estate tax, which he calls the “death tax.”

The bill is supported by 40 Republican cosponsors, but no Democrats.

The estate tax is applied to the transfer of property upon a person’s death. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 doubled the individual estate and gift tax ex

Congressional Roundup: Watchdog group rates effectiveness of SD delegation

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the latest installment in a series of periodic updates on the activities of South Dakota’s congressional delegation.

All three of the people representing South Dakota in Congress are among the most effective in their party, according to new scores published by a congressional watchdog group.

In its “effectiveness scores” for the 117th Congress, the Center for Effective Lawmaking ranked Rep. Dusty Johnson 14th among 222 Republican House members, while Sens. Mike Rounds an

Congressional Roundup: Sustainability vs. safety

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of periodic updates on the activities of South Dakota’s congressional delegation.

A new bill from Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, would take money away from sustainability efforts in schools and redirect it to school safety.

The bill takes aim at $500 million in funding appropriated by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements at public school facilities. Rounds’ legislation would reallocate

$50 million water legislation falls two votes short on final day

Amid all the excitement over the passage of a sales-tax reduction on the final day of regular legislative business Thursday, a bill to devote $50 million of federal money to water projects quietly died.

Sen. Helene Duhamel, R-Rapid City, had hoped her water legislation, Senate Bill 156, would pass before legislators left the Capitol. They won’t be back in Pierre until March 27, a day reserved to consider bills vetoed by the governor.

“It was really disappointing not just for me, but for a whol

Legislative Roundup: Noem says no three times, but leaves big questions unanswered

Gov. Kristi Noem has not vetoed the Legislature’s “historic” sales tax cut this week – which lawmakers passed Thursday in spite of her opposition – but she did flex her veto power.

Noem issued her first veto on March 2, using a cattle “VETO” brand on a bill that would have allowed local business improvement districts to hike their hotel taxes. Lawmakers tried to bring it back to life this week, but failed to get the required two-thirds majority.

Two more vetoes landed on Thursday, the last day

'Biggest tax cut ever'? Depends on how you slice it — and on Noem's reaction

Some legislators are describing the $104 million sales tax reduction they adopted Thursday as the “biggest tax cut in state history.” But is that true?

The answer is complex. It might be more accurate to call the current proposal the state’s largest single tax cut in raw, unadjusted dollars.

The qualifiers are necessary because of some big historical tax cuts that rival or surpass the current one.

In 1978, the state repealed its personal property tax on items such as household goods, applianc

Daktronics reports improving conditions since December stock plunge

A homegrown, publicly traded scoreboard manufacturing company in South Dakota reported improving business conditions Wednesday, three months after public disclosures from the company caused its stock price to plummet.

Brookings-based Daktronics released a quarterly earnings report showing sales of $185 million, which was described as a company record for the third quarter.

Daktronics Chairman, President and CEO Reece Kurtenbach spoke to investors Wednesday on a conference call.

“Overall, we b

Senate scraps bill to switch nominations from conventions to primaries

An effort to change the way many statewide candidates are nominated has failed, after it pitted factions of the Republican Party against each other for much of the current legislative session.

Tuesday at the Capitol in Pierre, the Senate decided not to support House amendments to the bill or appoint a conference committee to work out the differences between the chambers. That effectively defeated the legislation.

Sen. David Johnson, R-Rapid City, was the bill’s prime sponsor. He said lawmakers

Legislative roundup: Tax talks go topsy-turvy, and the rest of the week's action in Pierre

Anyone hoping for some measure of finality this week on the tax relief talks dominating the 2023 legislative session was almost certainly let down.

Those who relish the spectacle of late-session political ping-pong, however, had plenty to watch.

Coming into the session, the state’s historic surplus – made possible by a combination of economic growth and federal stimulus funding – was top of mind, with Gov. Kristi Noem and leaders of the House and Senate pledging to pass some form of tax relief
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