Political news

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South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has named a new Commissioner for Economic Development.

Freeman native Scott Stern’s main job will be to get out of state and out of country businesses to invest in South Dakota. 


For almost thirty years, Scott Stern worked with Stern Oil Company of Freeman, including 14 years as vice president and general manager

Four years ago, he moved to Arizona to work district sales manager for Petro-Canada America, a division of Suncor Energy that specializes in the production of crude from oil sands, according to their website.

IM 22 Ballot Measure Creates Public Funded Elections

Jul 19, 2016
Photo courtesy of Don Frankenfeld

A group of South Dakotans are hoping to establish a publicly funded campaign finance program in the state. Voters will get the chance to decide whether or not Initiated Measure 22 becomes law in November.

The measure would also prohibit state employees and lawmakers from becoming lobbyists until two years after leaving state government. As well, IM 22 would establish additional requirements for increased reporting of spending of campaign funds.

Rapid City Mayor Shines Light On Correspondence

Jul 18, 2016
Charles Michael Ray / SDPB

The mayor of Rapid City is sharing copies of the official correspondence between his office and the city council with local media outlets. Steve Allender is a first time mayor, and former Rapid City police Chief.  He says he hopes the move will increase public participation.

Those who champion open government call this a rare move that is good for transparency.


Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender says he will try this experiment of sharing his official correspondence for about half a year, to see what results, if any, it produces.


Two of South Dakota’s five Supreme Court justices say issues of justice for minorities in the state are more about poverty than race. Those comments came during a Sioux Falls Rotary meeting on Monday, July 11.

The Sioux Falls Rotary met to discuss exactly how the state’s highest court receives and, subsequently, hears cases.

When asked about how the state administers justice toward minorities in South Dakota, Supreme Court justice Glen Severson says he thinks the state’s judicial system is fair, but he says that’s not the full story.

Meth In South Dakota Easier To Make Than In The Past

Jul 13, 2016
Lee Strubinger / SDPB

The South Dakota legislature is tasked with developing a bill that addresses substance abuse, whether alcohol, meth or opiates. The committee that’s looking closer at the issue met earlier in the week.

While alcohol abuse was part of the discussion, the committee took a closer look at opioid and methamphetamine prevention.


The White House has proposed more than a billion dollars to help states deal with the prescription opioid addiction epidemic. And also address the increase used of meth.

Noem’s IHS Bill Working Way Through Congress

Jul 12, 2016

Congressional testimony on Representative Kristi Noem’s Indian Health Service bill wrapped up Tuesday.

Noem’s bill aims to create tribal led boards that control IHS hospitals. Noem says the boards will improve retention, reduce wait times and update the service’s funding formula.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem says her bill seeks to change the culture within the Indian Health Service. Noem says the IHS must retain quality employees, but she says agency personnel also need to be held accountable.

SD Congressional Leaders Call For IHS Audit

Jul 7, 2016

South Dakota’s representatives in Congress say an audit of Indian Health Service operations would lead to solutions for improving care for Native people.

Officials say one of the focuses of an audit would be the formula for how IHS funds different regions.

The Indian Health Service employs roughly 15,000 people.  U-S Senator Mike Rounds, says out of those only 750 are doctors who actually see patients.  

JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD / Courtesy photo

A group of Native people are planning a demonstration to protest encroachment on Bear Butte.
Members of the Native Lives Matter movement plan to hold a march from Bear Butte to the new Full Throttle Saloon during the Sturgis Rally.


Earlier this year, Mike Ballard, owner of the Full Throttle Saloon got a green light from Meade County commissioners to re-open his facility in a new location. Last year, the Full Throttle burned down, and the new spot Ballard is opening is closer to Bear Butte.

Kent Osborne / SDPB

In November, South Dakota voters will get the chance to decide whether or not to support a measure that would create a non-partisan primary system.

Supporters say it increases democracy, while opponents say it reduces transparency.

Amendment V is neither a Republican nor a Democrat backed issue. State Republicans decided to oppose the constitutional amendment at their state convention, and state Democrats neither support nor oppose the measure.

Both abortion rights advocates and opponents in South Dakota agree the recent US Supreme Court decision on a Texas case won’t immediately affect current state law.
Libby Skarin is a policy director for the ACLU in South Dakota. She says while the Supreme Court’s decision won’t directly impact state law, it may quell any additional laws that seek to regulate abortion.

The Dakota Political Junkies are a rotating panel of the most experienced and insightful political reporters and editors in the state.

Jon Hunter is publisher of the Madison Daily Leader. He joins Dakota Midday host Lori Walsh for insight into state party conventions and platforms, the nuances of party unity, and the prospects of improvements at the Human Services Center in Yankton.


South Dakota Democrats and Republicans held state conventions over the weekend.  Representatives from both parties join Dakota Midday to recap the convention and discuss key platform issues in South Dakota.

State Senator Billie Sutton is the Senate Democratic Leader and co-chair of the SDDP Convention. He talks about platform issues and what state Democrats see as the missed opportunity of Medicaid expansion.

South Dakota GOP Executive Director Ryan Budmayr discusses platform issues and how state Republicans are reconciling differences to unite the state party.

Half of South Dakota’s governors now have monuments as part of the Trail of Governors initiative.

The foundation, which erects statues of former governors near the state Capitol, is meant to educate tourists about the state’s history through art.

Organizers say the Trail of Governors concept is the only one like it in the country. The statues of Governor’s Warren Green, Nils Boe, and Mike Rounds are set to be placed in various locations in the town of Pierre.


A South Dakota candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives is calling on her opponent to convince Republicans in the state house to vote on expanding Medicaid. Paula Hawks’ call comes just twenty four hours after South Dakota’s governor called off a special session.


U.S. House Candidate Paula Hawks says Medicaid expansion in South Dakota would help fund Indian Health Service operations.


Governor Dennis Daugaard says he won’t call a special session of the state legislature to vote on Medicaid expansion.  

Daugaard says he has a plan that would not cost the state additional money, and guarantees the federal government will pay for Native American healthcare.

Daugaard says several legislators requested more time to study his plan for Medicaid expansion. His plan would expand coverage to 50,000 South Dakotans between the ages of 18 and 65.  

Representative Jim Bolin says there wasn’t enough support in the House to approve the governor’s plan.

A special interest group is suing the Secretary of State over a ballot initiative she gave the green light to late last year.

The suit alleges that several circulators of the petition sheets are invalid because they didn’t live at the residential address indicated on paper.

When a registered voter signs a petition to get an initiative on the November ballot, technically only the county has to match the where the signee is registered.

South Dakota Delegates Must Vote Trump In Cleveland

Jun 15, 2016
Contributed Photo

Last week, presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump decidedly won in South Dakota. He has all but locked up the nomination to run for president on the G.O.P ticket.

The state Republicans will send twenty-six delegates to the party convention in Cleveland in mid-July. State G.O.P. officials call the gathering a rally for conservative ideas.

Contributed Photo / South Dakota Democratic Party

Tuesday night twenty delegates were pledged to the two Democratic presidential candidates in South Dakota. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders leave the state with ten delegates each.

However, the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia isn’t until late July.

State Democrats employ a proportional delegate system.  

In addition to the 20 pledged delegates, five unpledged, or super delegates remain.  They are former or current elected officials, including former Senate majority leader Tom Dascle.

Kent Osborne / SDPB

Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee for the presidential election in November, but in South Dakota it was a close race.

South Dakota State Senator Scott Parsley backs Hillary Clinton.  He says the Clintons have always had a lot of support among Democrats in South Dakota.  Clinton won roughly fifty-one percent of the vote in the state primary.  Now, Parsley says Clinton needs to focus on reaching out to Sanders supporters.

One Architect Of Teacher Pay Increase Falls In Primary

Jun 8, 2016

A key state lawmaker who helped draft the plan to increase teacher pay in South Dakota is not going back to Pierre next session.

Republican State Representative Jacqueline Sly failed to achieve enough votes in the primary race against incumbent State Senator Phil Jensen.

Sly was a co-chair of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force and a key supporter of the half cent sales tax increase passed last year by lawmakers.   Jensen is among 10 state senators who voted against the final passage of the bill.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The 42nd president was back on the campaign trail in South Dakota Friday – this time not for his own political race but for his wife. Former US President Bill Clinton spent time in Sioux Falls stumping for democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Pop music pumped through the speakers in Sioux Falls as people who waited in line excitedly filed into a space draped with stars and stripes, including massive flags. More than an hour and a half later, former president Bill Clinton took the stage.

Dakota Political Junkies Seth Tupper and Denise Ross join us for a rundown of the state’s political stories of the week. This week we focus on the presidential race through the lens of South Dakota politics. From the potential candidate visits to the state, to how George McGovern might cast his vote, the Junkies offer intelligent insight into the topics of the week.

Seth Tupper is a Rapid City Journal enterprise reporter. Denise Ross is an editor at Black Hills Knowledge Network / South Dakota Dashboard.

Thune: South Dakota Could Swing US Presidential Nomination

Apr 14, 2016

U-S Senator John Thune says South Dakota could play a role in the presidential nomination process.
The state’s small population means primary delegates rarely make up a swing vote.  But Thune says it could be a tight primary race this year for either party.

Statehouse Podcast: Education Bills Signed, Final Budget Passed

Mar 11, 2016

The Statehouse Podcast for March 11th, 2016 includes coverage of South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signing education reform bills into law and the passage of the final budget bill in the state legislature. 

The Statehouse Podcast for March 10, 2015 includes coverage of education reforms passed in Pierre and the final bills of the session.


Statehouse Podcast: Education Reforms Advance, Medical Marijuana Dies

Mar 8, 2016
Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB

The Statehouse Podcast for March, 8th 2016 includes coverage of legislation on education, medical marijuana, changes in law for services like Uber, and more.


Statehouse Podcast: Abortion And Education Among Final Bills

Mar 7, 2016

The Statehouse Podcast for March 7th, 2016 includes coverage of legislation on abortion, education, and confined animal feedlots.

Informed Consent Abortion Bill Passes

Mar 7, 2016
Charles Michael Ray

House Bill 1157 has cleared the state legislature.

The measure requires medical doctors to inform a woman who is undergoing a drug-induced abortion that she can stop the procedure by not taking a second pill. 

Statehouse Podcast: Lawmakers Begin Final Week

Mar 6, 2016

The Statehouse Podcast for March 6th, 2016 includes a preview of some of the bills before lawmakers this final week of the session, including issues like education, abortion, medical marijuana and large corporate hog farms.

Statehouse Podcast: Abortion, Education, Vehicular Homicide

Mar 2, 2016

The Statehouse Podcast for March 2nd, 2016 includes coverage of legislation on abortion, education, vehicular homicide, elder abuse, CAFOs, and Medicaid expansion.