South Dakota News

SD lawmakers to gather in Pierre for last day of Legislature
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The Legislature is convening for the final day of the 2015 legislative session to consider three tax-related bills that Governor Dennis Daugaard (DOO'-gahrd) has vetoed. Lawmakers gather Monday in Pierre to finish up the session. Major business, including the state budget, finished up earlier this month. A smaller group of lawmakers plan to meet Monday to discuss potential topics to study over the summer. It's unclear if advocates will get the required two-thirds margins necessary to override the governor's vetoes. One bill would help determine whether South Dakota's property tax burden is a barrier for affordable housing businesses. Daugaard also dismissed a plan would exempt the earnings of amateur baseball coaches from the state sales tax. The other measure Daugaard vetoed would slightly reduce the tax burden on rural electric companies.

State regulators determine EB-5 loan firm must pay bank tax
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A company set up to recruit foreign investors in an investment-for-visa program that became entangled in scandal and swept up into in last year's U.S. Senate race must pay a state banking tax. The Department of Revenue also says it will examine whether it can retroactively collect taxes from SDRC Incorporated, the private firm founded by Joop (YOHP) Bollen. The Department of Labor and Regulation Division of Banking this month issued a license to SDRC, the Aberdeen-based firm managing loans to projects in the EB-5 program. That allows it to be a nonresidential mortgage lender, which means it must pay the state's bank franchise tax. It's unclear how much money will be collected annually or in arrears. The program recruits wealthy immigrant investors for projects in exchange for green cards.

Conference focuses on violence against American Indian women
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A one-day conference in Rapid City which starts tomorrow is focusing on violence against women on American Indian reservations. Tuesday's conference is on tribal implementation of the Violence Against Women Act. It's sponsored by the acting U.S. attorneys in both Dakotas, the U.S. attorney in Nebraska and the University of South Dakota law school. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 was recently signed into law. It increases legal protections for Native American women and other victims, puts an emphasis on tribal governments protecting their people and gives tribal courts more power. The conference is free and open to the public. It will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn.

Construction of new Hoven school expected to begin this fall
HOVEN, S.D. (AP) — Officials in the northern South Dakota town of Hoven expect to break ground on a new school this fall, more than a year after a fire destroyed the local high school. Hoven School Board President Mark Weber tells the American News that the district has hired an architecture firm to lead the project. The bid date for the project is planned for August 1st and construction should begin around the same time that the 2015-2016 school year starts. A blaze in May left the town of about 400 people without a high school. The school had stood for over 70 years. Seventh-graders through seniors have been taking classes at the former Holy Infant Hospital since August. Superintendent Pat Jones has said the school's insurance policy will pay for the construction.

Construction on Sioux Falls indoor aquatic center to begin
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — City officials say construction will begin this week on Sioux Falls' first indoor aquatic center, which will replace the outdoor pool at Spellerberg Park. The construction will begin this week on the project that's expected to open in fall 2016. City Council members voted in February to approve spending more money on the aquatic center. The project was expected to cost $19.8 million, but the estimate increased due to rising construction costs and several changes to the plan. Council members voted to push the project cost to $23.7 million. Most of the additional money likely will come from money leftover in last year's city budget. The City Council approved the initial price tag after voters last April said they wanted to replace the outdoor pool at the park.

SD extends comment period for Black Hills fisheries plans
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota wildlife officials have extended the public comment period on two proposed management plans for fisheries in the Black Hills. Officials with the state's Game, Fish and Parks Department say people can now comment on the two five-year plans through April 26. One plan is for streams and the other for reservoirs. The current streams plan in the Black Hills is more than 20 years old. John Lott is the department's chief of aquatic resources. Lott says public input is "essential" in the planning and implementation process. The Game, Fish and Parks Commission is expected to take final action on the plans during its May meeting in Custer.

Rapid City bait shop owner wants walleye in Black Hills
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — The owner of a Rapid City bait shop is gathering signatures for a petition in effort to add walleye in Black Hills reservoirs. Mike Cummings, who owns The Rooster bait and tackle shop, tells the Rapid City Journal that walleye would be popular among anglers and would help to reduce the overpopulation of other fish. He wants to see more of other game fish, too. Cummings says the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department's proposed five-year management plan focuses too much on trout. Gene Galinat with the department says it would take "intense management" to stock walleye, and that the department isn't ready for that. White sucker is the only fish native to the Black Hills. Brook, brown and rainbow trout are stocked yearly.

Farmer tries to find balance with genetically modified crops
TOLSTOY, S.D. (AP) — A farmer in South Dakota's northern half is taking a middle road as to whether he should grow genetically modified crops. Tolstoy farmer Corey Johannsen tells the Aberdeen American News he grows crops that are genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, as well as those that aren't. He says the subject is a touchy one among farmers. Johannsen says he believes those who favor non-GMO crops have some legitimate concerns but "well over 90 percent" of South Dakota farmers make their money from GMO crops. Johannsen got interested in non-GMO crops because of consumer demand but also over concerns about using a herbicide called glyphosate for weeds. About a third of his farm was planted with non-GMO crops last year. He plans to make it about half this year.

SD church spending $125,000 to restore stained glass windows
MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — A church in southeastern South Dakota is spending $125,000 to restore roughly 70 stained glass windows that are more 100 years old. The Daily Republic reports that the Mitchell First United Methodist Church has begun the five-year project to restore the lead between each piece of glass that olds the windows together. Kelly Gross is the chairman of the First United Board of Trustees. Gross says only two of the major windows at the church have been repaired since the facility was built in 1907. The project will take five years to complete because each window can take roughly four weeks to restore. The windows will be repaired one at a time by a Watertown company. Gross says the cost of repairing each window runs between $800 and $12,000.

IRS scams flourishing in eastern SD as April 15 approaches
BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) — Authorities in eastern South Dakota say phone scams in which con artists pose as IRS agents to bilk people out of thousands of dollars are flourishing as the April 15 federal tax-filing deadline approaches. Brookings County Assistant Sheriff Scott Sebring tells The Brookings Register that a couple of scam cases have been reported in the county. The scammers threaten residents with jail time or the loss of a driver's license unless a payment is made. Sebring says a resident recently lost several thousand dollars, while another one took the threat of prison so seriously that he showed up at the jail to turn himself in. Sebring says the scammers don't target a particular demographic. He adds the IRS usually begins communication with taxpayers with a letter and not by phone.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press