Joshua Haiar

Joshua Haiar

Joshua Haiar is a reporter based in Sioux Falls. Born and raised in Mitchell, he joined the Navy as a public affairs specialist after high school and then earned a degree from the University of South Dakota. Prior to joining South Dakota Searchlight, Joshua worked for five years as a multimedia specialist and journalist with South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

Rep. Will Mortenson, chair of the South Dakota House State Affairs Committee, listens to testimony on Jan. 20, 2023, at the Capitol in Pierre. (Joshua Haiar/SD Searchlight)

Attempts to block foreign ag-land ownership continue, despite existing laws that address it

By: and - February 23, 2023

PIERRE — Efforts to prevent and root out existing foreign ownership of agricultural land in South Dakota are still in progress, despite the Legislature’s rejection of a proposal from Gov. Kristi Noem, and despite a set of 44-year-old state laws that already facilitate some of what lawmakers are trying to accomplish.  The governor’s bill would […]

Rep. Liz May, R-Kyle, on the floor of the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Pierre on Feb. 22, 2023. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

House passes bill requiring initiated amendments to get signatures from every district

By: - February 22, 2023

PIERRE — The South Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would make it more difficult for citizens to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. A petition drive to force a vote on a constitutional amendment already requires signatures from registered voters equivalent to 10 percent of the votes cast in the […]

Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown, on the Senate floor during the 2023 legislative session at the Capitol in Pierre. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Senate rejects Noem’s bill to vet ag-land purchases by foreigners

By: - February 21, 2023

PIERRE – The state Senate rejected a bill Tuesday that Gov. Kristi Noem had proposed as a way to protect South Dakota’s agricultural land from purchases by hostile foreigners. The vote was 23-11, and it wasn’t the only legislative rebuke of the day for Noem. Earlier Tuesday, a House committee rejected her bill to repeal […]

The Big Sioux River under Watertown's stone bridge on Kemp Avenue in winter (J.T. Fey/For South Dakota Searchlight)

Ongoing study shows Big Sioux River mixing with aquifer that Watertown uses for water

By: - February 20, 2023

The waters of the Big Sioux River are infiltrating the drinking water pulled from wells near Watertown, causing potentially harmful effects that aren’t fully understood yet. Those early conclusions come from a joint state and U.S. Geological Survey study on interactions between the river and the Big Sioux Aquifer. The study does not offer conclusions […]

The South Dakota State Capitol, as seen on Nov. 2, 2022.

Committee rejects bill to stop carbon pipelines from using eminent domain

By: - February 16, 2023

A state Senate committee unanimously rejected a bill Thursday that would prevent two proposed carbon pipeline projects from using eminent domain.  The bill had already passed the House of Representatives 40-28, but it was defeated 9-0 in the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee. Opponents of the bill said it would be unfair to remove the […]

(Illustration by Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight; photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Accusations fly as ranchers push for changes to Brand Board

By: - February 16, 2023

Ranchers lodged accusations against a state board Thursday at the Capitol in Pierre, and a legislative committee advanced a bill to change the way the board members are selected. The bill would shift the power of appointing members of the South Dakota Brand Board from the governor to a direct election by brand owners.  Brands are […]

Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller and her husband, Mike Mueller, stand outside the Senate chamber at the Capitol in Pierre during a vote to censure her on Feb. 1, 2023. (Joshua Haiar/SD Searchlight)

Attempt to block COVID vaccines from required school immunizations fails in committee

By: - February 15, 2023

A bill aimed at preventing COVID-19 vaccines from becoming mandatory for children attending public schools in South Dakota failed to pass the state’s Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday.  Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller, R-Rapid City – who was recently censured by the state Senate after she allegedly made harassing comments about vaccinating children to […]

Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at a January 2022 event in the state Capitol at Pierre. (Twitter/Governor Kristi Noem)

Committee passes Noem bill proposing a board to vet foreign ag land purchases

By: - February 14, 2023

In a 7-0 vote Tuesday, the state Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee passed a bill that would establish a vetting process for foreign purchases of agricultural land in South Dakota. The bill would create a board to investigate proposed purchases of ag land by foreign interests, and to make recommendations of approval or denial. […]

The state Capitol in Pierre. (Getty Images)

Committee approves vaccine exemption bill amid misinformation, offensive language

By: - February 14, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story includes offensive language, which has been included to accurately portray the content of a public legislative hearing. A South Dakota legislative committee approved a bill Tuesday that would establish a “conscience” exemption from COVID-19 vaccine mandates, after the committee hearing at the Capitol in Pierre disintegrated into a parade of misinformation […]

Officials break ground in September 2022 on the Nucor Mineral Industries Building at South Dakota Mines in Rapid City. (Photo courtesy SD Mines)

Officials blame inflation for state building projects that are millions over budget

By: - February 13, 2023

Eight building projects already approved by the Legislature need about $30 million in additional funding due to rising costs, state lawmakers were told Monday at the Capitol in Pierre. State officials told the Joint Committee on Appropriations about the challenges of trying to keep project costs under control amid high inflation. One of the projects […]

Voters line up to cast early ballots on Nov. 4, 2022, at the Minnehaha County Courthouse in Sioux Falls. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Competing Republican views about ‘election integrity’ yield dozens of bills

By: - February 12, 2023

Political rhetoric about election integrity has translated into a cascade of election-related bills from feuding factions of South Dakota’s Republican Party. Republican legislative leaders announced a package of election-related bills they want to adopt during this year’s 38-day legislative session in Pierre, which began last month and continues until March. Meanwhile, a subset of Republican […]

Jennifer Poindexter, left, speaks with Rep. Rocky Blare, center, as Bruce Burkhart looks on during a gathering Jan. 18, 2023, at the Capitol where landowners and others advocated for tighter restrictions on eminent domain. (Joshua Haiar/SD Searchlight)

Lawmakers advance bill to block carbon pipelines as regulators continue permitting process

By: - February 10, 2023

The end of the week brought a flurry of activity related to proposed carbon pipelines as lawmakers advanced a bill to block the projects, and regulators waded through requests affecting the speed of the permitting process. State utility regulators voted 2-1 on Thursday to deny an effort by some landowners to send a proposed carbon […]