Political news

Lee Strubinger / SDPB

Former Rapid City mayors are debating a plan put forth by the city to expand the civic center complex.
Hundreds of city residents packed a convention hall at the Ramkota Tuesday night for the debate ahead of a vote to build a new arena.
It’s being called the largest project in Rapid City history… to build a new arena at the Rapid City Civic Center complex. The Department of Justice requires the city to bring the 40-year-old Barnett Area up to Americans with disabilities act compliance.
The city estimates the compliance cost is around $30 million.

TenHaken Wins Sioux Falls Mayor Race

May 2, 2018

Paul TenHaken is the next mayor of Sioux Falls.

The CEO of a marketing technology agency beat former TV anchor and entrepreneur Jolene Loetscher by 25 percent of the electorate.

Paul TenHaken held on to an early lead that kept growing as precinct results trickled in Tuesday night.

The Argus-Leader reports it’s the largest margin of victory in a Sioux Falls mayoral race since converted to a strong-mayor form of government 24 years ago.

In his celebration speech, TenHaken says the city of Sioux Falls voted for principled, executive leadership experience.

Regional Hospital officials say they’re implementing new oversight policies to prevent medical waste from getting into the Rapid City landfill.

The statement comes after a Rapid City Journal report on medical waste violations by the hospital.

The department head of the Rapid City Public Works Department says crews have found bags of medical waste during random load inspections. Medical waste, they say, that could be infectious.

Tribes Gather For Treaty Anniversary

Apr 30, 2018
Chynna Lockett / SDPB

A large gathering of South Dakota tribal members are honoring the spirit of their ancestors who signed the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie 150 years ago.

Many gather at the site with mixed feelings.

The 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie guaranteed a large swath of land from Nebraska to Montana, which included the Black Hills and the east bank of the Missouri River.

Eventually, the established treaty area got whittled down to modern day reservations.

The 150 years between the treaty signing and today include events like the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre.


In The Moment ... April 25, 2018 Show 323 Hour 2

Dana Ferguson is a watchdog government reporter for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. She discusses the latest developments in the Sioux Falls mayoral race along with the rest of the state's political news.

Lee Strubinger / SDPB

National Park Service officials are preparing for the upcoming commemoration of the 1868 Treaty at Fort Laramie signing one hundred and fifty years ago this weekend.

Representatives from fifteen tribes are expected to attend, including members from South Dakota’s nine reservations.

Both tribal and federal officials are scheduled to meet at the treaty signing spot where 150 years ago they came together for peace.

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

Early voting or absentee voting starts Friday for South Dakota’s primary and special elections.

Registered voters can vote early or absentee until June 4.

One west river county auditor says they’re expecting a higher than normal turnout.

Of the 68,000 registered voters in Pennington County, Auditor Julie Pearson says she’s expecting a 35 percent turnout. She says that’s high for a primary.

She says that’s mainly due to two issues up for vote in Rapid City that aren’t party based – the Marsy’s Law adjustment and the referral of a new arena at the civic center.

Daschle Forms Rural Progressive Policy Organization

Apr 17, 2018

Former South Dakota Democratic US Senator Tom Daschle is joining other prominent national democrats to form a group that advocates for progressive policies in rural state’s like South Dakota.

Daschle says they’re just in the beginning stage, but the group hopes to rebuild the two-party system in rural America.

Former Senator Daschle is working alongside former USDA Secretary and Governor Tom Vilsack and US Senator Mary Landrieu to organize rural progressives ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

Rounds 'Puzzled' By President's Trade Negotiating Style

Apr 12, 2018
Rounds for Senate

US Senator Mike Rounds says he’s pleased President Donald Trump is reconsidering the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Rounds and other South Dakota Senator John Thune say they’re concerned by the president’s trade war with China.

He says that partnership is a good counter to proposed tariffs by the Chinese government.

The president abandoned TPP talks shortly after taking office.

Rounds says he wants the president to sign the TPP the way it was written in the first place.

Visit Rapid City

On June 5, Rapid City voters decide whether to build a new arena at the Rapid City Civic Center complex.
The $130 million for the new arena would come from a unique funding source, in fact, it’s the same fund created to build the civic center in 1975.
However, just like in 2015, the last time voters turned down a new arena, not everyone is convinced on the project.

City leaders must at least repurpose the Barnett Arena and make the 40-year-old building comply with current accessibility requirements.

Nine Libertarians Running For Office In South Dakota

Apr 11, 2018

The South Dakota Libertarian Party is feeling optimistic heading into its party convention this weekend, where members will ultimately decide on a gubernatorial candidate.

The party has nine candidates running for national, state and county races, including four for state House of Representatives and one for state Senate.

State Libertarian Party Chair Aaron Aylward says that’s the most candidates they’ve had running for seats in South Dakota.

Libertarian Novotny Announces Gubernatorial Bid

Apr 9, 2018

Another libertarian candidate is announcing his bid for governor during the 2018 election.

Steve Novotny of Winner says he’s a lifelong Republican, who recently registered Independent.

He says corruption in South Dakota has gotten out of hand. Novotny says he’ll offer something the three major party candidates won’t…

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau says they’re not overreacting to proposed Chinese tariffs on soybeans just yet.
Scott VanderWal says President Donald Trump has a unique method of negotiating, which he says could be about larger world issues.
He says the administration might use tariff’s to get countries to the negotiating table.
However, VanderWal says they’re working to make the administration understands the severe consequences if negotiations go wrong.


A new White House nominee to head the Veterans Administration means uncertainty for the future of the Hot Springs facility.

That decision could be left up to Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, who would be the third VA secretary to consider what happens.

For South Dakota’s congressional delegation, that means re-educating officials on why that facility is important for the health system and the southern hills.

It’s safe to say local veterans and the state’s congressional delegation weren’t impressed with former-VA secretary David Shulkin.

South Dakota US Senator John Thune says he’s concerned by a Chinese announcement of placing a steep tariff on $50 billion dollars of U.S. imports.

That includes a tariff on soybeans. The South Dakota Soybean Association says China purchases 61 percent of total U.S. soybean exports, roughly 30 percent of overall production.

The announcement comes after President Donald Trump’s call on Tuesday for tariff’s on Chinese goods.

Thune says he understands the president’s desire for more reciprocal treatment.


The City of Rapid City is settling with Epic Outdoor over the use of full motion advertising on its billboards.

Epic will cease running full motion video and in exchange the city will allow much larger billboards along I-90.

It’s an end to one of two lawsuits between the city and outdoor advertising companies.

In a press release dated April first, Governor Dennis Daugaard says historians have discovered lost documents that raise Dakota statehood questions.

President Abraham Lincoln established Dakota Territory in 1861.

According to a press release from, well, one of the governor’s offices, it was believed prior that the territory was divided into the two states of North Dakota and South Dakota on November 2, 1889, via a proclamation by then-President Benjamin Harrison.

Rapid City voters will decide on the future of the Barnett Area and Civic Center complex during a special election on June 5.

Earlier this year, the city council passed a resolution to issue bonds for a new arena at the civic center, as well as renovations to the 40-year-old Barnett Arena.

A group of citizens are referring the decision to a public vote.

Dana Dykehouse is the CEO of First Premier Bank. He helped with efforts to construct a new arena in Sioux Falls.

Daugaard Bids Farewell To His Last Legislature

Mar 26, 2018

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard gave his farewell address to the state legislature on Monday.

The annual Veto Day is the last time a legislature convenes before officially adjourning for the session.  That took place Monday.

During his speech, the governor says he’s proud of the example lawmakers set for fiscal management.

Mickelson Says He Won't Seek Re-Election In 2018

Mar 26, 2018
Sd Legislature

Speaker of the House Mark Mickelson says he’s not going to run for re-election this year.

Mickelson is both the son and grandson of former governors. In 2016, the Sioux Falls Republican even explored a run for the state’s highest office.

Mickelson says he thoroughly enjoyed his time in the legislature and as Speaker of the House.

Legislature Fails To Override Governor Vetoes

Mar 26, 2018

The South Dakota state legislature is failing to override the governor’s three vetoes this session.

Lawmakers met Monday to reconsider two vetoes that change scholarship and tuition assistance programs in the state. They also fail to override a veto on a change to dates for pre-filing legislation.

Last week the governor vetoed Senate Bill 94, which changes the eligibility for home-schooled students to receive the Opportunity Scholarship.

The bill lowers the ACT score minimum for home schooled students from 28 to 24, before being considered for the scholarship.

Rounds Votes To Ease Dodd-Frank Regulations

Mar 15, 2018
Rounds for Senate

Ten years after global investment bank Bear Stearns’ near collapse, which kick started the Great Recession, the United States Senate is easing financial regulations meant to prevent a future one.

South Dakota US Senator Mike Rounds says those regulations, the Dodd-Frank Act are burdensome to community banks. He voted in favor of the bill.

US Senator Mike Rounds says the one-size-fits-all approach of the Dodd-Frank Act impacts community banks in South Dakota. He says because of that smaller banks must deal with “onerous” paperwork that larger banks comply with.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley is filing a lawsuit against three pharmaceutical companies alleging they misrepresented the effect of opioid painkillers.

The lawsuit alleges these companies took steps to conceal those risks.

Attorney General Jackley says many South Dakotans, both patients and doctors, relied on information provided by these opioid manufacturers.

So the state of South Dakota has filed a civil suit against Purdue Pharma, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Endo Health Solutions.


The Secretary of State is rejecting an initiated constitutional amendment establishing an independent state legislative redistricting commission.

She’s siting lack of signatures for the rejection.

The sponsors hoping to create an independent redistricting commission came up about 2,500 signatures short to place the idea on the general election ballot.

A similar proposal, Constitutional Amendment T, was rejected by voters last year by 49-thousand votes.

The 93rd Legislature Approves Budget And Adjourns

Mar 9, 2018
Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB


The state legislature is adjusting the current fiscal year and setting next year’s budget.

It’s the final bill lawmakers pass before adjourning for the year.

Lawmakers are giving increases to education, state employees and community providers.

Lawmakers say extra money in consumer pockets because of recent federal tax cuts is what’s behind optimistic budget revisions for the rest of fiscal year 2018 and increases the following year.

Both the South Dakota House and Senate are agreeing on a bill that makes ballot access easier for third party candidates.

Earlier this year, District Court Judge Lawrence Piersol ruled the state’s ballot access provisions too stringent for those parties. He enjoined those laws on the state’s books, which adds urgency to the bill needing to pass.

State Senator Arthur Rusch says the new language should satisfy the judge’s ruling.

Budget Negotiations Over 'Big Three' Still Underway

Mar 8, 2018

Budget negotiations are ongoing with state lawmakers, who only have two days left of session.
The final budget is still a moving target, especially funding for state employees, education and Medicaid providers.
Lawmakers expect those three groups to see a slight increase in funding, but just how much remains is anyone’s guess.
Cover session and you’re bound to hear an anecdote about how lawmaking is like confecting a bratwurst. According to State Senator Deb Peters, the same can be said for drafting state budgets.

When state lawmakers first convened in January, State Senator Billie Sutton requested the legislative procedure committee take a closer look at code of conduct.

The request came after several reported stories of sexual assault and harassment in Pierre during session. Republican leadership says the code of conduct and reporting process are sufficient.

However, the rules committee agreed to appoint a subcommittee to take a closer look at rules on sexual harassment and reporting, but the subcommittee never met.

Change To Legislator Salary Comes Down To State Senate

Mar 5, 2018

The South Dakota House of Representatives is passing a Senate bill to increase legislator pay, initially, by tying their salaries to the median household income in South Dakota.
A State Senate panel also passed an identical bill on the same day.
That means the State Senate will determine whether lawmakers receive a bump up in pay.

Special interests can donate to other ballot questions.

Legislature wants final say in any major expansions to Medicaid.

Senate Judiciary passes a bill that increases the punishment for drug dealers when a person dies as a direct result of using the substance they sold.

Revenues of more than $18 million than projected in tax receipts. Governor is cautiously optimistic about the numbers.