Author

Dana Hess

Dana Hess

Dana Hess spent more than 25 years in South Dakota journalism, editing newspapers in Redfield, Milbank and Pierre. He's retired and lives in Brookings, working occasionally as a freelance writer.

The South Dakota Capitol building in Pierre. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Attempt to change legal newspaper status fails in committee

By: - February 1, 2023

PIERRE — An attempt to change the rules governing the definition of a legal newspaper was defeated Wednesday morning by the Senate Local Government Committee.  SB 80 would allow free distribution newspapers to publish public notices like local government minutes and bid notices if they had a minimum of 200 paid online subscribers and distributed […]

COMMENTARY
The House of Representatives Chamber of the South Dakota state Capitol building in Pierre. (Getty Images)

Term limits lead to legislative whack-a-mole

By: - January 26, 2023

In the 1990s, term limits were a hot topic in a variety of states, including South Dakota. In 1992, voters here endorsed a constitutional amendment that would limit U.S. senators to two consecutive six-year terms, U.S. representatives to six consecutive two-year terms, state constitutional officers to two four-year terms and state legislators to four consecutive […]

COMMENTARY
Rep. Fred Deutsch, R-Florence, testifies before the South Dakota House State Affairs Committee during the 2023 legislative session. (Joshua Haiar/SD Searchlight)

Lawmakers rightly kill anti-democracy bill for many of the wrong reasons

By: - January 20, 2023

Sometimes lawmakers do the right thing, but for the wrong reasons. A case in point would be the defeat of House Joint Resolution 5001 early Friday morning by the House State Affairs Committee. HJR 5001, sponsored by Rep. Fred Deutsch, R-Florence, would require that backers of a defeated constitutional amendment wait one general election cycle […]

COMMENTARY
Members of the Wambli Ska Society perform a Lakota drum song at a ceremony on Sept. 13, 2022, in Pierre to celebrate the launch of a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons liaison within the South Dakota Attorney General's Office. (Courtesy of Attorney General's Office)

Leaders needed to reconcile the races in South Dakota

By: - January 16, 2023

In December of 1989, Gov. George Mickelson wrote to Lakota Times publisher Tim Giago asking for his help writing a proclamation that would declare a year of reconciliation between the races in South Dakota. In the letter, Mickelson noted that racial harmony in the nation had been helped along by the work of Martin Luther […]

COMMENTARY

Two-and-a-half party system operating in Legislature

By: - January 6, 2023

The first week of the legislative session is feast and famine for Capitol reporters.  The famine is in the mornings when committees are supposed to meet. In that first week, some of them won’t meet at all. Others will meet to “organize.” Few, if any, will make any news that first week.  The feast is […]

COMMENTARY
Jason Ravnsborg, left, is interrogated after the car he was driving struck and killed a pedestrian in rural South Dakota. Ravnsborg, who was the state's attorney general at the time, was ultimately impeached and removed from office. (Image from House Select Committee on Investigation files)

Don’t let party loyalty trump voting for competent candidates

By: - January 2, 2023

There will be some new faces in Pierre this month as legislative and executive oaths are administered. One face, however, will be familiar. Marty Jackley will return to serve as attorney general. Jackley’s previous time in the office was highlighted by competence and integrity, two qualities missing during the tenure of his successor, Jason Ravnsborg. […]

COMMENTARY
Legislators and guests wait for Gov. Kristi Noem to deliver her budget address on Dec. 6, 2022, in the House chamber at the Capitol in Pierre. (Joshua Haiar/SD Searchlight)

Democrats deserve blame for one-party rule

By: - December 26, 2022

The South Dakota legislative session is about two weeks away and it should be an interesting one as it offers impressive dueling tax cut plans. Gov. Kristi Noem wants to cut the state sales tax on food, while a group of Republican legislators have an idea for cutting property taxes. There is some concern about […]