Monthly Archives: July 2018

Will tech board commit to more financial help for students?

The state Board of Technical Education today will consider its budget proposal for next fiscal year during its meeting Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown. One of the items calls for reducing tuition and fees.

They currently are $116 per hour from a student. Executive director Nick Wendell has suggested a three-year plan to reduce the amount to $99.

That would require the Legislature to provide an additional $7 per hour in fiscal 2020, followed by another $5 per hour in 2021 and another $5 per hour in 2022.

The Legislature would make the decision in the 2019 session.

The requests would mean an additional $3 million for 2020, followed by another $4 million in 2021 and another $5 million in 2022.

The four technical institutes at Watertown, Mitchell, Rapid City and Sioux Falls currently receive $27.9 million.

Aside from the above increases, the budget proposal for 2020 calls for another $4.6 million, including a 2.3 percent inflation increase of $1 million.

Board members are Rod Bowar of Kennebec, Scott Knuppe of Rapid City, Ed Mallett of Watertown, Scott Peterson of Belle Fourche, Doug Ekeren of Yankton, Bob Faehn of Watertown, Dana Dykhouse of Sioux Falls, Terry Sabers of Mitchell and Diana VanderWoude of Sioux Falls.

South Dakota voters will decide in the Nov. 6 general election whether to increase the state taxes on tobacco products in order to provide more money for tech schools.

The budget proposal is here.

Next phase of road work set for Watertown


“BX Civil and Construction, Inc., a contractor for the SD Department of Transportation, will begin Phase 2 work at US Highway 81 and 20th Avenue South on Monday, July 30. Construction of Phase 1 along US Highway 81 and the east leg of 20th Avenue South will soon be completed.

“During Phase 2 construction, traffic movements will be restored at the intersection. Traffic will be using the newly constructed roundabout as normal for northbound, southbound and eastbound traffic. A temporary traffic diversion for westbound traffic will be in place as the remaining west leg of 20th Avenue South will be constructed during Phase 2 construction. Due to the tight turning radius of the diversion, the current southbound traffic diversion will remain in place for Phase 2. All traffic approaching the roundabout from the west must turn south on the current diversion and continue southbound on US Highway 81. All westbound truck traffic is encouraged to use an alternate route during Phase 2 construction.

“All traffic in the area is encouraged to pay special attention to the in-place signing and pavement markings entering, exiting and through the roundabout itself. Traffic should proceed in a single lane through the roundabout, and no passing is allowed within the area of the roundabout. Traffic is reminded that colored concrete sections encountered within the roundabout are not intended for use by car traffic. All colored concrete sections are only to be used to accommodate truck trailers. Motorists should use caution through the roundabout as construction work is still proceeding.

“Weekly public meetings for the project will continue to be held at the Watertown Police Department Community Room each Thursday at 9 a.m. through the end of construction.

“US Highway 81 will be reconstructed at the intersection of 20th Avenue South. Construction includes grading of a single-lane roundabout, concrete surfacing, asphalt surface treatment, permanent signing, permanent striping and roadway lighting.

“The substantial completion date for this $1.88 million project is Aug. 3, 2018, and the overall completion date is expected to be Aug. 17, 2018.”

State road work planned at Aberdeen


“The South Dakota Department of Transportation will begin work to add roadway lighting and signals at the Highway 12 and Brown County 14 intersection on Tuesday, July 31, 2018.

“The intersection of Highway 12 and Brown County 14 will be closed to traffic on Tuesday, July 31, for about four weeks.

“This work is part of a nearly $884,000 contract with Ringgenberg Electric, Inc. to do work on Highway 12 & Brown County 14 in the Aberdeen region.

“The completion date for the intersection improvements is Sept. 15, 2018.”

Governor appoints new 911 member

Gov. Dennis Daugaard recently appointed Pam Bryan of Oacoma as the new member of the state 911 Coordination Board. She works for ATT and succeeded Jody Sawvell of Quinn.

Bryan participated in her first meeting Wednesday.

The governor also reappointed members Michelle DeNeui of Spearfish and Brown County Commissioner Rachel Kippley to new terms.

Turning the water table

Matt Naasz served several years as legal counsel for the state Water Management Board. He recently was on the other side of the room, representing Southern Black Hills Water System at the state board’s July 12 meeting.

Naasz joined the Gunderson, Nelson, Ashmore, and Palmer law firm in Rapid City in February.That’s also where state Rep. David Lust works. Naasz previously was on the staff of state Attorney General Marty Jackley.

The remote-sales memorandum

Tony Venhuizen speaking to legislators Wednesday.

Here is the three-page briefing sent to legislators earlier this week from Tony Venhuizen, chief of staff for Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

It covers issues Venhuizen said are open to interpretation on charging state sales tax to South Dakota customers by businesses that don’t have a physical presence within the state’s borders.

Venhuizen and Wenzel Cummings, a senior attorney for the Legislative Research Council, testified Wednesday to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Appropriations.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 21 that states could tax remote sales in a case argued by South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley and a lawyer representing President Trump’s administration. The justices voted 5-4.

One of the unresolved points in South Dakota is whether the governor intends to call legislators to Pierre for a special session.

Bridge work on US 18


The South Dakota Department of Transportation says approach slab replacement and paving will begin Monday, July 30, on the Red Canyon Bridge located three miles east of Edgemont on Highway 18.

Traffic at the bridge site on Highway 18 will be reduced to one lane with a 16-foot width restriction and controlled with temporary traffic signals. Completion of the project is expected by Oct. 19, 2018.

Motorists can expect a short delay with the traffic signal and are asked to slow down and be aware of suddenly slowing and merging traffic, as well as construction workers and equipment adjacent to the driving lane.

The prime contractor on this $457,357 project is Heavy Constructors, Inc. of Rapid City.

Survey shows majority thought Russia shaped 2016

The latest Morning Consult / Politico survey released this morning found a majority of US registered voters believe Russia tried to influence the 2016 elections.

The results: 56 percent said Russia did and 21 percent said Russia didn’t.

The survey was conducted July 19-23 among 1,996 voters nationwide.

As for the 2018 elections, the MC/P results showed that 52 percent said Russia would “likely try” to influence the contests.

Looking to 2020, the next presidential contest, a similar majority of 53 percent said they expect Russia to try again.

Then there was this from the survey’s summary: “With regards to the 2020 election, nearly half of voters (47%) say Russia will try and boost Donald Trump.”

League gets new CEO

Virginia Kase starts Wednesday, July 25, as national chief executive officer for the League of Women Voters.

The non-partisan organization encourages participation in government.

Kase previously was based in Maryland as chief operating officer for CASA, an immigrant-rights organization.

LRC fills fiscal openings

Tamara Darnall started Tuesday as chief fiscal and program analyst for the state Legislative Research Council.

Darnall, previously director of finance for the state Department of Education, succeeds Ann Mehlhaff.

Amanda Doherty-Karber joined the LRC fiscal staff about two weeks ago as a new fiscal and program analyst.

Shane Mattheis also joined as a new fiscal and program analyst.

The three introduced themselves to lawmakers at the start of the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee meeting Tuesday morning.