South Dakota legislature

The South Dakota Secretary of State's Office in Pierre. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Post-election audit rules spark debate on voter intent

BY: - September 27, 2023

The perceived daylight between the terms “manual count” and “hand count” proved contentious during discussions of post-election audit rules that inched closer to implementation on Wednesday in Pierre. The rules represent South Dakota’s first foray into post-election audits, which are routinely done in most states. Creating such an audit process was a key campaign issue […]

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

Senator accused of illegally pocketing COVID funds cooperating with state

BY: - August 7, 2023

Attorney General Marty Jackley says a Rapid City state senator accused of illegally accepting more than $600,000 in COVID relief funds is working to resolve the situation. Monday was the Jackley-imposed deadline for Sen. Jessica Castleberry, R-Rapid City, to either pay back the $603,219 in funds she collected for her daycare business, Little Nest Preschool, […]

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 […]

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 […]

(Illustration by Khanchit Khirisutchalual/Getty Images)

State investment manager argues against ban on ‘green’ investments

BY: - May 19, 2023

The state’s top investment officer doesn’t want lawmakers to bar him from trading the securities of “green” companies — provided those companies can make money for the state. The goal of stock market purchases in South Dakota, Investment Officer Matt Clark said, is to buy low and sell high — regardless of the kind of […]

Joe Kirby, head of South Dakota Open Primaries, signs a petition that aims to allow all voters to cast a vote in the state's primary elections. Kirby is seated next to De Knudson of Sioux Falls, with Tom Dempster of Sioux Falls standing to her left. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Open primary push to see opposition from state Republican Party

BY: - April 19, 2023

SIOUX FALLS — A bipartisan group of activists kicked off a petition drive Wednesday that aims to put open primaries on the South Dakota general election ballot in 2024. The proposal would enshrine the right to vote for every primary candidate of every political persuasion for all voters in the South Dakota Constitution, regardless of […]

South Dakota Chief Justice Steven Jensen gestures as he participates in oral arguments with other state Supreme Court justices on March 23, 2023, in Brookings. (David Bordewyk/South Dakota Newspaper Association)

Limits, application of South Dakota ‘stand your ground’ law debated before Supreme Court

BY: - March 24, 2023

BROOKINGS — In 2019, Minnesota native Ramon Deron Smith killed a man and wounded two others in a Sioux Falls parking lot during his first visit to the city.  He kept shooting as his targets fled across a busy urban thoroughfare. After doing so, he drove back to Minneapolis, shaved his head, ditched the vehicle […]

Noem budget sets aside $3.5 million for state fingerprint, criminal history database

BY: - December 9, 2022

Lawmakers in Pierre will soon be asked to send $3.5 million to the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) to update the software that catalogs arrest and fingerprint records that date back to 1937. The ask is among the one-time line items tucked into Gov. Kristi Noem’s 360-page proposed budget. The software upgrades to the DCI’s […]

Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, as seen on Nov. 21, 2022.

Judge rules against widow in COVID-19 worker’s comp case

BY: - November 29, 2022

The widow of a slaughterhouse worker who died of COVID-19 is not entitled to a worker’s compensation hearing, a Minnehaha County judge ruled Monday. Second Circuit Judge Jon Sogn sided with Smithfield Foods in the case, which originated as a claim for death benefits through the South Dakota Department of Labor (DOL).  The DOL denied […]

Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, as seen on Nov. 21, 2022.

Widow of former Smithfield employee challenges COVID-19 liability law

BY: - November 21, 2022

The widow of a slaughterhouse worker who died after contracting COVID-19 is challenging the constitutionality of a South Dakota law that preemptively absolves employers of liability for exposing workers to the virus. The South Dakota Department of Labor (DOL) used the law this summer to justify denying the worker’s compensation claim to Karen Franken, whose […]