Daugaard to push for more drug courts in session LEAD, S.D. (AP) — Gov. Dennis Daugaard's administration says drug and DUI courts are working for offenders and taxpayers in South Dakota, and the governor is pushing for lawmakers to fund three new ones in the 2015 legislative session. Daugaard's budget proposal puts $600,000 toward bringing the number of such specialty courts up to 13 in South Dakota and to flip an existing court from federal funding onto state aid. Advocates say drug courts help offenders by keeping them in the community and treating their addictions while holding them accountable. Daugaard's office says reducing the state prison population saves taxpayer money. New drug courts would be located in Beadle and Brown counties. A group of counties in western South Dakota would see a new DUI court.
Pierre teenager convicted of murder gets sentenced PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A Pierre teenager convicted of killing a classmate in 2012 has been sentenced. KCCR-AM reports a second-degree murder charge brought 18-year-old Braiden McCahren 25 years in prison, with 15 years suspended. McCahren also received 15 years in prison for an aggravated assault charge. The sentences are to be served concurrently. Jurors in adult court in September convicted McCahren in the December 2012 death of 16-year-old Dalton Williams in McCahren's home. McCahren was 16 at the time of the slaying but was tried as an adult. Authorities said the shooting happened after an argument about a paintball incident. McCahren was convicted of aggravated assault for pointing a shotgun at another classmate and pulling the trigger. The gun didn't fire. McCahren's attorney says he'll appeal the conviction to the South Dakota Supreme Court.
Keystone pipeline to top Senate agenda next year WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says approving the Keystone XL pipeline will top the Senate agenda in January. The issue could set up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama. Congressional Republicans have been pushing for approval of the pipeline for years. Obama has resisted because of environmental concerns. The pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Canada into the United States and eventually to the Texas Gulf Coast. The Republican-led House has repeatedly passed legislation approving the pipeline. But the bills have died in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Republicans will take control of the Senate in January, and McConnell said approving the pipeline will be the first issue on the agenda. McConnell said the pipeline would create jobs.
Daugaard: $56M to be invested in SD railway system SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A partnership between the state and private groups will allow for a $56 million investment in four rail projects in South Dakota. Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced the investment Tuesday. The projects include the reconstruction of 42.6 miles of rail line between Chamberlain and Presho; construction of railroad sidings in Aurora and Huron; and upgrades to the Sioux Valley Line in southeast South Dakota and the Britton Line in the northeast part of the state. Daugaard says the investments "will spur economic development in South Dakota." He adds that the investments will help transport the state's agricultural commodities faster. Daugaard says the investment will also lead to the construction of a new grain handling facility in Britton and a grain shuttle loading facility in Kennebec.
USGS: High Plains Aquifer groundwater declining OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey says groundwater levels are declining in an aquifer that serves parts of Oklahoma and seven other states. The USGS has released a report on changes in groundwater levels in the High Plains Aquifer, also known as the Ogallala Aquifer. USGS scientist Virginia McGuire says measurements between 2011 and 2013 represent a large decline in groundwater levels and are likely due to increased groundwater pumping. In 2011, water in the aquifer totaled about 2.92 billion acre-feet, a decline of about 267 million acre-feet, or 8 percent, since 1950. Change in water levels from 2011 to 2013 was a decline of 36 million acre-feet in just two years. The aquifer underlies about 175,000 square miles in Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.
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