John Hult

John Hult

John is the senior reporter for South Dakota Searchlight. He has more than 15 years experience covering criminal justice, the environment and public affairs in South Dakota, including more than a decade at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

The Department of Public Safety Building in Pierre. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Law enforcement commission offers forgiveness for marijuana use

By: - July 12, 2023

Two law enforcement hopefuls were offered forgiveness for cannabis use by the South Dakota Law Enforcement Officers Standards Commission on Wednesday in Pierre.  The vote for Parkston Police Officer Kody Beckers makes him eligible for certification in the state in spite of a seven-year-old guilty plea to THC wax possession during his freshman year of […]

Officer Aaron Klein of the Sioux Falls Police Department fuels up at a Street Department facility on June 22, 2023. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Supply chain struggles complicate cities’ transition to electric vehicles

By: - July 5, 2023

Morgan Jackson would love to get a few more gas-electric hybrids for the Sioux Falls Police Department. The SFPD’s four hybrids are 25-37% cheaper to fuel than the rest of the fleet. That’s no small savings for police cruisers, which average 30,000 miles a year. Non-hybrids burn up an average of $43,000 a month in […]

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)

Missing or murdered Indigenous persons liaison aims to build trust, peace of mind

By: - June 29, 2023

If you know something about a missing or murdered Indigenous person, Troy Morley wants to take your call. That’s the first and perhaps the most important message the assistant U.S. attorney for the District of South Dakota has for those learning about his just-announced ascension to Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) liaison for the […]

Taneeza Islam, executive director of South Dakota Voices for Peace, talks about internet connectivity on June 22, 2023 in Sioux Falls. (submitted photo)

Sioux Falls nonprofit to help connect residents with federal internet subsidies

By: - June 22, 2023

A Sioux Falls nonprofit will soon hire a “digital equity navigator” to help residents secure federal high-speed internet subsidies that were made available in 2022 but have largely gone unused by those in the city who qualify for them.  The Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation announced its $50,000 connectivity donation to South Dakota Voices for […]

The Brown County jail is located in Aberdeen and connected to the Brown County Sheriff's Office and courthouse. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

‘Stand your ground’ law alters criminal justice landscape

By: - June 16, 2023

This story is one of two exploring the impact of South Dakota’s “stand your ground” laws. The companion article explores specific examples of how defendants are using the laws to make self-defense claims. — South Dakota lawmakers talked of home invasions and mass shootings when they strengthened self-defense protections in recent years, but the new […]

The Pennington County Courthouse and jail complex in Rapid City, in June 2023. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Bar fights, neighbor disputes, playground justice: How ‘stand your ground’ plays out in court

By: - June 16, 2023

This story is one of two exploring the impact of South Dakota’s “stand your ground” laws. The companion article explores the ways prosecutors, politicians and defense lawyers view the laws. — James Bialota Jr. believes he was defending himself when he took down a 12-year-old boy on a Rapid City playground. Thanks to two recent […]

An apartment building under construction on June 13, 2023, in eastern Rapid City. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Tribes still face uphill slog for housing infrastructure funding after passage of rules

By: - June 13, 2023

South Dakota’s tribes may lose out on a quarter of a $200 million pool of workforce housing infrastructure money before lawmakers can pass a bill giving them access to the funds. The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee voted 5-1 Tuesday to give final approval to the rules for the program. But a wrinkle in the law […]

The federal courthouse in Sioux Falls. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Sioux Falls man now facing 16 counts of COVID-related fraud

By: - June 12, 2023

SIOUX FALLS — A Sioux Falls man already facing possible federal prison time for bank fraud has been charged with two additional counts of wire fraud for allegedly lying to secure another $700,000 in COVID relief funds. James Bunker, 52, of Sioux Falls, was initially indicted on a dozen fraud-related charges related to the Paycheck […]

A sign identifies a polling place during a city and school election on June 6, 2023, in Rapid City. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Anti-abortion group sues South Dakota over campaign finance requirements

By: - June 6, 2023

A Virginia anti-abortion group wants a federal judge to strike down a South Dakota law that requires nonprofit organizations to list their top five donors on political messaging. Students for Life of America is a nonprofit advocacy group launched in 2006, with an aim to educate and connect anti-abortion students with messaging tools and one […]

Navigator CO2 Ventures Vice President of Government and Public Affairs Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, left, speaks with opponents of carbon pipelines following a meeting of the Minnehaha County Commission on June 6, 2023, in Sioux Falls (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Minnehaha County passes rules for carbon pipelines despite opposition from both sides

By: - June 6, 2023

SIOUX FALLS – Officials in South Dakota’s largest county dealt a blow to opponents of two carbon pipeline companies with a vote to set shorter-than-requested spaces between homes and pipelines in their first-ever set of rules for such projects.  Minnehaha County commissioners convened Tuesday to take up the issue of setbacks in a long-debated pipeline […]

The cost of holiday baking was higher in 2022, as prices for eggs were up 49.1% over 2021, according to the Consumer Price Index. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Slower growth, sluggish borrowing expected to impact South Dakota economy

By: - May 31, 2023

Higher interest rates, inflation, a cooling housing sector and a dip in consumer spending are expected to slow economic growth in South Dakota, according to the state Bureau of Finance and Management. The agency’s projections for two years of lower growth in the state came during Wednesday’s meeting of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers. […]

Houses under construction. (Getty Images)

Housing cash one step closer for South Dakota builders

By: - May 31, 2023

The rules for a $200 million infrastructure funding program are headed to lawmakers for a final sign-off. The board of the South Dakota Housing Development Authority voted unanimously to approve its rules for the program on Wednesday after about an hour of public comments from local economic development offices, attorneys, home builders and others. Commenters […]