South Dakota News

Past Bosworth lawyer denies he gave advice that violated law
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — An attorney who worked with former South Dakota political candidate Annette Bosworth says he didn't give her legal advice that led to her alleged election law violations. Sioux Falls attorney Joel Arends testified Thursday during Bosworth's trial for the violations. Bosworth unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in the 2014 U.S. Senate race. She's accused in part of allegedly being out of the country during a time when her petitions to get on the ballot say she was gathering signatures. She's pleaded not guilty to perjury and filing false documents. Bosworth's defense team says that she was a rookie candidate. They say she took advice from Arends, who told her she could call herself the petitions' "circulator" because they were under her direction. Arends says he didn't give Bosworth that advice.

Bird flu crisis slows in Minnesota, focus now on recovery
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota has notched six straight days without a new bird flu case. And though state officials aren't ready to say the outbreak is over, they're beginning to stand down. The first case in the Midwest was confirmed in March at a Minnesota turkey farm, and the virus then spread to 88 farms in the top turkey producing state. But new cases have fallen off sharply and the focus is turning toward getting farms back into production. To be sure, the disease remains a threat. Iowa, the chief egg producer in the U.S., has reported several new probable cases this week. But things have settled down enough that Minnesota's Board of Animal Health stopped issuing daily updates unless it has new cases. And federal personnel assigned to the state have fallen.

Economy remains weak in rural parts of Midwest
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new survey suggests the economy will remain weak in rural parts of 10 Western and Plains states because the strong U.S. dollar is hurting exports and the bird flu is hitting poultry farms hard. The overall Rural Mainstreet index improved to 49 in May from April's 46, but the index remained in negative territory below 50. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says agriculture and energy exports are suffering. The survey indexes range from 0 to 100. Any score below 50 suggests decline in that factor in the months ahead. Sales of farmland and farm equipment are slowing, and the bankers surveyed are less confident about the next few months. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming and the Dakotas were surveyed.

Wellmark seeking 43 percent rate increase for 14,000 members
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is proposing to raise rates by almost 43 percent for its South Dakota members who've signed up for individual Affordable Care Act health plans outside of the federal health care exchange. Wellmark is the largest private health insurer in the state. About 14,000 South Dakotans have ACA-compliant plans through the company. The company says an increase of larger claims, a substantial increase in volume and cost of prescriptions and more than 60 members who cancelled coverage after receiving costly care are leading to the rate hike. Other companies that provide insurance in South Dakota say they've also applied for rate increases. Sanford Health Plan and Avera Health Plans both are part of the federal marketplace. They say they're seeking percent increases in the "low teens."

Damaged buildings, homes being taken down in Delmont
DELMONT, S.D. (AP) — Damaged buildings and homes in the town of Delmont are being taken down as cleanup continues in the town hit earlier this month by a tornado. Officials say citizens and volunteers are clearing away debris caused by the May 10 tornado. Debris is still being to be hauled to a rubble site in Douglas County. The tornado damaged or destroyed 84 structures in and around Delmont and also injured nine people. State Public Safety officials say volunteers are still needed for the cleanup. Earlier this week, state and federal officials were assessing tornado damage to homes and businesses. Officials say the preliminary assessment is the first step to determining whether aid will be made available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration.

Justice Department eyes voting reforms for American Indians
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice wants to improve access to voting for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Justice Department officials said Thursday the department would seek legislation requiring states with Native American reservations or other tribal lands to locate at least one polling place in a venue selected by tribal governments. The department sent a letter to Congress with a legislative proposal that also would require states to make voting machines, ballots, and other voting materials and equipment available at these tribally located polling places as they are at other polling places. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the changes are needed because "significant and unnecessary barriers" for American Indians and Alaska Natives who seek to cast ballots.

Powerball ticket sold in Rapid City worth $30,000
DEADWOOD, S.D. (AP) — A Powerball ticket sold in Rapid City is worth $30,000 in the Wednesday drawing. State lottery officials say the ticket matched four of five white ball numbers and the Powerball to win the $10,000 third prize, and an option purchased for an additional dollar tripled the prize. The odds of hitting the third prize in Powerball are 1 in about 649,000. Separately, a Wild Card 2 ticket sold in Deadwood is worth $6,001 in the Wednesday drawing. The next drawings are Saturday. The Wild Card 2 jackpot is $230,000 and the Powerball jackpot is $138 million.

South Dakota to join float lineup of the 2016 Rose Parade
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota will have a floral float cruising through Pasadena, California, on New Year's Day during the annual Rose Parade. The float that South Dakota will have during the 2016 edition of the parade will feature the state's world-famous Mount Rushmore. The parade plans to shine a light on the centennial celebration of the country's national park as part of a partnership with the U.S. National Park Service. State Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen says coincidentally, 2016 is also the 75th anniversary of the completion of Mount Rushmore National Memorial. South Dakota officials have chosen a Pasadena-based company to build the state's float. The parade draws more than 700,000 spectators and 81 million television viewers worldwide.

SD Historical Society wins 2 independent book awards
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Two books published by the South Dakota State Historical Society have won independent publishing awards. State officials say two books published last year have won Independent Publisher Book Awards, or IPPY Awards. "Transformation and Continuity in Lakota Culture: The Collages of Arthur Amiotte, 1988 to 2014" won the national Gold Award in the Fine Art category. "Love Letters from Mount Rushmore: The Story of a Marriage, a Monument, and a Moment in History" received the Mid-West Gold Award for Best Regional Non-Fiction. The historical society says the IPPY Awards are recognized by the publishing industry as the world's largest book-awards contest. Judges have between 10 and 20 years of experience in critiquing books, and fewer than one in 10 entries win an IPPY medal.

6 people indicted for conspiracy to defraud IRS sentenced
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A group of people who pleaded guilty in South Dakota to identify theft and attempting to defraud the Internal Revenue Service have all have been sentenced. U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler says the last of the six defendants were sentenced this week. All six pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States. Five of them pleaded guilty to identify theft. Seiler says the indictments stemmed from the defendants conspiring to defraud the IRS by using stolen personal information to file fraudulent income tax returns, which claimed false income tax refunds. The six defendants include: Jennifer Robinson of Fargo, North Dakota; Shawnte Washington, of Tampa, Florida; Stewart Franks, of Little Rock, Arkansas; Timothy Brister, Junior of Tampa; Ann Weber of Horace, North Dakota; and Donta Moore of Kansas City, Missouri.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press