2023 South Dakota Legislature

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

Members of the State-Tribal Relations Committee meet at the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate headquarters in Agency Village on June 26, 2023. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Tribal leaders urge legislators to support reestablishment of Lake Traverse Reservation boundaries

BY: - June 26, 2023

AGENCY VILLAGE — The Lake Traverse Reservation, home to the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, doesn’t appear on official South Dakota state maps. Literally, the oyate (a Dakota word meaning “people” or “nation”) was wiped off the map because of a 1975 U.S. Supreme Court decision. That decision has made tribal members feel erased in the last […]

Photo of the Brown County office building, which is connected to the Brown County courthouse and jail.

How SD counties are spending $250 million in COVID relief money

BY: - June 14, 2023

The majority of $250 million in COVID relief money South Dakota counties received from the state and federal government during the pandemic has been spent or obligated to replace payroll for county employees or stashed into county general funds, according to tracking documents from the state and federal government. Members of the South Dakota Legislature […]

(Daria Nipot/Getty Images)

Legislative committee approves changes to child care licensing rules

BY: - June 13, 2023

The Legislative Rules Review Committee approved new rules Tuesday for child care licensing from the Department of Social Services meant to address a severe child care shortage in the state. The new rules cut training hours for child care center providers in half and allow providers to care for more children at once than laid […]

Gov. Kristi Noem visits troops during the 2019 Golden Coyote Exercise at Rapid City in 2019. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Jamaal Turner)

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

BY: - June 2, 2023

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 […]

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 […]

Houses in a new development on Oct. 28, 2022, in Harrisburg. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

For-profit businesses in, tribes out in housing infrastructure rules update

BY: - May 30, 2023

For-profit entities might have a shot at some of the $200 million in housing infrastructure funding, the Housing Development Authority’s board members learned on Tuesday. Tribal entities, however, likely won’t be eligible unless the Legislature rewrites the law next year. Those two changes to the proposed rules of the long-delayed workforce housing incentive program came […]

Fifth Circuit Court Judge Tony Portra speaks at the Brown County listening session with members of the Indigent Legal Defense Task Force. The meeting was held in the Brown County Courthouse basement in Aberdeen on May 17, 2023. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Officials seek help for counties at first listening session on public defense costs

BY: - May 17, 2023

ABERDEEN — The caseload of defendants who can’t afford a lawyer has increased exponentially in Brown County in recent years, and public defense costs for criminal cases have more than doubled in the last decade in the county and across the state. That’s putting increased pressure on the county to cover the costs for the […]

Erica Schipper is an OB-GYN physician practicing in Sioux Falls. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Physicians feel ‘trapped’ by SD’s abortion trigger law. They’re hoping to change it.

BY: - May 13, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second story in a three-part series about the impacts of South Dakota’s abortion ban. The first story examined the number of South Dakotans leaving the state for abortions. The third story looks at the effects of the abortion ban on the recruitment and retention of OB-GYNs. A wave of dread […]