Senate panel approves transgender student bathroom bill PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A bill that would require students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their biological sex at birth will be debated by the full Senate. The Senate Education committee voted 4-2 on Thursday to approve the measure and send it to the floor. The state House previously approved the plan. Advocates say the bill is meant to protect the privacy of students. Schools must provide "reasonable accommodations" for transgender students' needs under the measure. Accommodations include a single-occupancy bathroom or the "controlled use" of a staff-designated restroom, locker room or shower room. Democrats have criticized the measure as discriminatory. Some legislators this session are also attempting again to void a high school activities association policy allowing transgender student athletes to request playing on the team of their choice.
Neighbors upset over trees removed from health care site SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Neighbors of a central Sioux Falls neighborhood are upset after more than a dozen trees were removed as part of an expansion of a senior living and health care facility. The Argus Leader reports that Touchmark at All Saints broke ground Monday on a 109,000-square-foot addition to its facility at 18th Street and Dakota Avenue. The All Saints Neighborhood Association came out against the project last spring, in part because it involves removing several mature trees. Brenda Stough has lived across the street from Touchmark for 32 years. Stough says she and others thought more trees would be spared. Officials with Touchmark and the city say work is going according to plan. City Planning Director Mike Cooper says engineers determined the trees along 18th Street couldn't be saved.
Mid-Central cooperative director announces June retirement PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The director of a Platte-based educational cooperative that was pushed into the spotlight after a murder-suicide involving two employees is retiring effective June 30. A lawyer for Mid-Central Educational Cooperative released Director Dan Guericke's retirement announcement Thursday. The September murder-suicide occurred hours after the state informed Mid-Central it was losing a contract for GEAR UP, a federal college-readiness grant. Attorney General Marty Jackley has said there's a state-federal financial investigation surrounding GEAR UP. Mid-Central attorney Scott Swier didn't immediately respond to an email requesting comment. Guericke has previously declined to comment. Guericke says in the letter that Mid-Central is "well-positioned for the opportunities and challenges ahead." He says he is leaving in the "best interests" of the cooperative and that he's focused on a new chapter in his career.
Meetings on EPA's Clean Power Plan canceled for now PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The state Department of Environmental and Natural Resources is cancelling public meetings on the EPA's Clean Power Plan in light of the U.S. Supreme Court issuing a stay this week. The meetings had been scheduled to fulfil EPA's public participation requirements on its plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel power plants. The first South Dakota meeting was to be held at the Milbank Visitor Center in Milbank on February 23rd. A coalition of 29 states including South Dakota challenged the plan in October. The states argue that the EPA exceeded its authority by double-regulating coal-fired power plants and forcing states to shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation. The D.C. Circuit Court will hear oral arguments on the merits of the states' case on June 2nd.
South Dakota never trails in 72-58 win over North Dakota St. VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) — Tyler Flack had season highs of 18 points and 10 rebounds and Tre Burnette 11 points and 10 boards to lead South Dakota to a 72-58 win over North Dakota State Thursday night. Flack posted his first double-double of the season and Burnette his fifth. D.J. Davis added 13 points and Casey Kasperbauer 10 for the Coyotes (12-14, 4-8 Summit), who never trailed. A free throw by Flack gave South Dakota its largest lead of 20 points, 52-32, with 10:13 remaining. North Dakota State briefly got within nine with 4:41 to go. Carlin Dupree had 14 points and Khy Kabellis 12 for the Bison (16-9, 6-5), who scored only six points in the game's first 10 minutes and trailed 29-21 at halftime. South Dakota won its second in a row while North Dakota State lost for the first time in three games.
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