Monthly Archives: September 2018

Headed out

Jim Putnam

Bill Shorma of Dakota Dunes is chairman for the South Dakota Lottery Commission. He was selected at the meeting Friday. Joe Kafka of Valley Springs is the new vice chairman.

Executive Director Norm Lingle noted that former legislator Jim Putnam of Armour has stepped down from the commission. Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed Putnam in December 2012.

Putnam had served a combined 26 years in the two chambers of the Legislature before his defeat in the 2012 House Republican primary election.

“Unfortunately (he) had some health issues,” Lingle said about Putnam’s decision to leave the commission this year before his current term expired. “Public service was highly important to Commissioner Putnam.”

Putnam, who turned 78 in April, is shown above in his motorcycling attire testifying to a legislative committee last winter.

The governor has two seats vacant on the commission.

Turning a page on timing of state oaths

Tony Venhuizen, who is the governor’s chief of staff, and a leader in Pierre’s Trail of Governors statues project, told an interesting story to legislators Tuesday about how Gov.-elect Coe Crawford took office Jan. 8, 1907.

South Dakota’s early tradition had the departing governor provide the State of the State address on the opening Tuesday of the Legislature’s new session as he prepared to leave office, according to Venhuizen. Then the governor-elect took the oath.

That was the case in 1907 as Coe Crawford, a member of the Republican Party’s progressive wing, entered the governor’s office. Crawford had defeated the incumbent, Samuel Elrod, a member of the stalwart wing, for the Republican nomination and then won in November.

Venhuizen explained that Crawford’s oath marked the last time a South Dakota governor began his first term on the same day as the legislative session began. It would happen again at the start of 2019 when the next governor takes office, a situation that Gov. Dennis Daugaard doesn’t want to happen.

State law was changed at some time after Crawford. The law currently reads: “Except as otherwise expressly provided, all state, district, and county officers shall qualify and enter upon the duties of their office on the first Monday of January succeeding their election or within twenty days thereafter.”

That would mean the new governor would start one day before session opens but two days after the inauguration festivities Pierre is planning.

A proposed law the Legislature will consider today, at Daugaard’s request, in its special session would add another sentence: “However, a state officer may qualify and enter upon the duties of office on the Saturday immediately preceding the second Tuesday of January that succeeds the state officer’s election.”

The change would allow Pierre’s 2019 inaugural celebration to proceed on the Saturday before legislative session starts. Venhuizen noted the next time the calendar falls in such a way would be 2047.

He later provided to this reporter a list of governors who took office on the same day that session began:

1991 George S. Mickelson (second term)
1963 Archie Gubbrud (second term)
1957 Joe Foss (second term)
1935 Tom Berry (second term)
1929 W. J. Bulow (second term)
1907 Coe Crawford (first and only term)
1901 Charles Herreid (first term)
1895 Charles Sheldon (second term)

Special education panel meets Tuesday

The Legislature’s interim committee studying special education funding meets Tuesday, Sept. 11, for perhaps the final time before the 2019 session.

Among bills under consideration are measures that would:

Create a sparsity factor;

Accelerate the recalculation period to every two years from the present three; and

Increase state funding to more than $5.2 million, a raise of more than $1.2 million.

There’s also a proposed resolution to Congress that points out the 1975 goal of 40 percent federal funding and the peak of 18 percent.

Rep. Mary Duvall, R-Pierre, chairs the interim committee. The meeting starts at 10 a.m. CT. The measures are at

It’s one of three legislative committees meeting Tuesday. The others are access to mental health at 7:30 a.m. CT and the appropriations panel at 2 p.m. CT. Their documents can be found through LRC website at

All three meetings can be heard on

I-29 Sisseton ramps closed for several weeks


The South Dakota Department of Transportation says the southbound on and off ramps for the Interstate 29/Sisseton exit (Exit 232) will be closed to traffic on Friday, Sept. 7, for about 14 days.

Motorists will need to use an alternate route through Wednesday, Sept. 17, while the contractor reconstructs the southbound lanes through the exit.

Drivers are reminded to slow down through construction zones and be aware of workers and equipment adjacent to the driving lane.

Michels Corp. is the prime contractor on the $14.6 million project.

The project includes grading, concrete paving, epoxy bridge chip seals and roadway lighting and has a completion date of Oct. 26, 2018.

Ice is thin beneath Heitkamp

The latest survey from Morning Consult / Politico suggests U.S. Senate races are tilting more conservative in North Dakota but not so much in Montana. Both have Democratic senators up for re-election Nov. 6: Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester.

What happens in those states and about 10 others would influence whether Republicans keep majority control of the Senate. South Dakota’s two Republicans, John Thune and Mike Rounds, aren’t up for election this fall.

The new survey found Heitkamp had 48 percent approval from North Dakota registered voters and 42 percent disapproval.

More significantly, 39 percent supported her re-election while 46 said it was time for a new person. She faces Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer. Heitkamp’s one-point win in 2012 was the Democrats’ only statewide victory in eight years.

In Montana, 51 percent of registered voters approved of Tester while 35 percent didn’t. On the re-elect question 44 percent supported him and 40 percent didn’t. Tester faces Republican State Auditor Matt Rosendale.