South Dakota legislature

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 […]

Legislators mingle on the House floor ahead of the governor's budget address on Dec. 6, 2022, at the Capitol in Pierre. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

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 […]

SD House Republican leaders for 2023 Session. Front: Assistant Majority Leader Taylor Rehfeldt, R-Sioux Falls, Majority Leader Will Mortensen, R-Ft. Pierre, Speaker Hugh Bartels, R-Watertown, Speaker Pro Tem Mike Stevens, R-Yankton. Middle: Whip Becky Drury, R-Rapid City, Whip Kirk Chaffee, R-Whitewood, Whip Rocky Blare, R-Winner. Back: Whip Gary Cammack, R-Union Center, Whip James D. Wangsness, R-Miller.

Leadership teams lean moderate in South Dakota House, Senate

BY: - November 21, 2022

The South Dakota House of Representatives elected its leadership team for the 2023 legislative session over the weekend, a week after their counterparts in the Senate did the same. Members of the 94-member GOP supermajority’s more moderate faction came out ahead in both chambers. Speaker of the House Hugh Bartels, Watertown, was elected to replace […]

Marijuana symbol with legal text in neon lights.

Lawmakers look to restrict expansion of medical cannabis conditions

BY: - November 16, 2022

Lawmakers want to make it more difficult to expand the list of conditions that might qualify a citizen for a medical marijuana card. South Dakota’s voter-backed medical marijuana statute includes a clause that allows patients to petition the state Department of Health (DOH) to add “debilitating” medical conditions to the list of ailments treatable by […]

A sigh shows the Sioux Falls, SD location of the Helpline Center, one of three call centers across the state that connects callers to a range of services.

Calls to 211 Helpline Center rising again after post-pandemic lull

BY: - November 11, 2022

Mental health calls to South Dakota’s 211 Helpline declined as the COVID-19 pandemic tapered off, but calls for all needs – especially for housing help – are on the rise again. That was among the major takeaways from a Department of Social Services (DSS) presentation on the operations of the statewide assistance call center on […]

State Court Administrator Greg Sattizahn addresses the Study Committee on Juvenile Justice on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, at the South Dakota State Capitol. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

‘Three strikes’ rule for young offenders endorsed by legislative panel

BY: - November 5, 2022

A legislative panel wants to make it easier for judges to detain juveniles, require school resource officers to report suspected drug use to school officials, fund community response teams to deal with low-level offenders and offer a new path to graduation for troubled youth. Those were among the proposals that emerged during the final meeting […]

Analysis: Over one-third of state legislative races already decided

BY: - November 1, 2022

Election day is a week away, but more than a third of South Dakota’s state legislative races are already decided. Of 105 seats up for grabs in the South Dakota Senate or House of Representatives, 38% are unopposed races. A clear majority of Senate seats — exactly 60% — are unopposed. Every unopposed candidate is […]