Makenzie Huber

Makenzie Huber

Makenzie Huber is a lifelong South Dakotan whose work has won national and regional awards. She's spent five years as a journalist with experience reporting on workforce, development and business issues within the state.

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Pennington County in dispute with state over opioid settlement amounts

By: - August 28, 2023

Pennington County is arguing in court that the state should recalculate its national opioid settlement amounts to pay the county’s litigation costs. The national opioid settlement was the product of two channels of litigation: a multidistrict lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors of opioids for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic, and state attorneys general […]

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State doesn’t inspect or license growing IV hydration clinics

By: - August 27, 2023

The South Dakota Department of Health doesn’t inspect or license IV hydration clinics, which are increasingly popular places to treat ailments such as hangovers, fatigue and jet lag with supplements delivered intravenously. The clinics have appeared as retail storefronts, medical spas and Sturgis Rally vendor booths in South Dakota. The IV cocktails can cost anywhere […]

The Bennett County Nursing Home is located in Martin. (Photo Courtesy of Connie Smith/Lakota Times)

Third SD nursing home to close in 2023 as Legislature studies long term care sustainability

By: - August 24, 2023

A third South Dakota nursing home will close this year — citing short staff, rising costs and years of insufficient Medicaid reimbursement. More than 15 South Dakota nursing homes have closed since 2017. The Bennett County Nursing Home in Martin operated at a loss of over $1.3 million in the first six months of 2023, […]

Tim Blakeley, manager of Sunset Junction medical marijuana dispensary, shows marijuana plant buds on May 11, 2010, in Los Angeles, California. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Medical marijuana cards surpass 11,500

By: - August 21, 2023

More than 11,500 South Dakotans hold medical marijuana cards two years after medical cannabis became legal in South Dakota. That’s well ahead of projections made by the state when the program first started in 2021, said Jennifer Seale, the state Department of Health’s medical cannabis program administrator. The state began issuing cards in November 2021 […]

The South Dakota Department of Transportation works on the Pfc. Frederick Farlee Memorial Bridge on U.S. Highway 212, 1 mile west of Lantry, on June 2, 2023. The bridge is state-owned, though it is located in Dewey County. (Photo courtesy of Steven Jacobs, SDDOT)

Higher taxes and fees fix hundreds of bridges, but some local governments don’t participate

By: - August 18, 2023

In 2015, nearly 25% of locally owned bridges in South Dakota were in poor condition. Eight years later, more than $142 million in taxpayer funding has been spent on 500 local bridge improvement grants through a state program. As of 2022, the number of locally owned bridges in poor condition had decreased by 46 while […]

A person climbs the stairs of the South Dakota Capitol. (Joshua Haiar/SD Searchlight)

Public defender recommendation won’t provide relief to cash-strapped counties, legislator says

By: - August 16, 2023

A task force studying costly legal services recommended a state public defender’s office last month to ease the burden on counties when defendants can’t afford a lawyer. But Sen. Jim Mehlhaff, R-Pierre, a member of the task force, told legislators during a separate study committee meeting on county funding issues Wednesday in Pierre that the […]

Full length side view of female nurse pushing senior man on wheelchair at hospital corridor

Six SD nursing homes are among nation’s worst-rated

By: - August 13, 2023

Six of South Dakota’s 98 nursing homes are on a federal list of the nation’s worst-rated care facilities. Five of the facilities are eligible for a special program to improve quality of care through increased regulatory oversight, and the other one is already in the program. The five eligible South Dakota facilities as of the […]

The South Dakota House of Representatives chamber at the Capitol in Pierre. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

SD has lowest per capita tax burden in the region; highest sales tax burden, report says

By: - August 7, 2023

South Dakota residents bear the lowest tax burden per capita in the region, according to a report shared with lawmakers Monday. But residents also bear the region’s heaviest sales tax burden. The Legislative Research Council, which provides legal and fiscal analysis for lawmakers, shared the report with the South Dakota Legislature’s Executive Board during a […]

An opponent of the state's ban on gender-affirming health care for transgender children holds a sign during an event at Van Eps Park in downtown Sioux Falls on July 28, 2023. The protesters called for state lawmakers to repeal the ban. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Why hasn’t a lawsuit challenged SD’s trans health care ban?

By: and - August 4, 2023

Twenty-one states have implemented laws or policies banning gender-affirming care for transgender children. Nearly half of the laws have been challenged in court, but not South Dakota’s. That’s partly because a similar ban was already blocked by a federal judge in Arkansas earlier this summer. The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the Arkansas law in […]

The headquarters of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe are in Eagle Butte, a town of over 3,000 located in northwestern South Dakota. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Dewey County opens satellite office on reservation, staving off petition to move county seat

By: - July 28, 2023

It’s an afternoon off work — an 82-mile round trip — for residents of Eagle Butte to visit the Dewey County Courthouse. But it’ll now be a matter of minutes for Eagle Butte residents to visit Dewey County’s first ever satellite office opened earlier this month — the third county satellite office in the state. […]

The Little Nest Child Care and Learning Center in Rapid City. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Rapid City senator accused of illegally accepting $600,000 in COVID-19 relief funds

By: - July 27, 2023

State Sen. Jessica Castleberry, R-Rapid City, is accused of illegally accepting over a half-million dollars in COVID-19 relief funds to support her child care business, according to the governor and attorney general.  Gov. Kristi Noem divulged the information in a news release Thursday, along with a letter from Attorney General Marty Jackley requesting that Castleberry […]

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54,000 South Dakotans disenrolled in Medicaid unwind; 52,000 expected to be eligible with expansion

By: - July 26, 2023

Roughly 54,000 South Dakotans have lost Medicaid coverage since the end of pandemic protections in March. At the same time, 52,000 South Dakotans are estimated to be eligible for enrollment in a voter-approved Medicaid expansion that took effect on July 1, state officials told legislators at an appropriations meeting Wednesday in Pierre. Voters approved the […]