Mount Rushmore Society buys green space near memorial The Mount Rushmore Society says it has bought 15 acres of land near the intersection of Hwy 244 and 16A in Keystone to preserve and maintain the green space bordering Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The Mount Rushmore Society announced the purchase as one of its accomplishments over the past year highlighted at an annual meeting celebrating its 85th anniversary. The society also paid off a $17 million loan the board had financed in 1996 to privately fund and construct Mount Rushmore's parking garage. It also completed the Youth Exploration Area, a project for which it donated $300,000. The society donated nearly $240,000 in educational and interpretive funding for the park through the Mount Rushmore Bookstores and Mount Rushmore Audio Tour.
Sales tax hike for teacher pay passes state House committee PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A legislative panel has approved the half-cent sales tax increase that helps fund Gov. Dennis Daugaard's teacher pay plan. The House Committee on Appropriations voted unanimously Monday for the bill. It now heads the House floor. More than $60 million from the hike would go toward the teacher salary plan. Tony Venhuizen is chief of staff to the governor. He says it's time to send the message to surrounding states that South Dakota values education. House Republican leader Brian Gosch is pursuing a separate avenue to raise teacher pay without increasing taxes. Gosch says one proposal would use current state dollars and put $30 million toward teacher pay in the first year, and $20 million each in the second and third years. Venhuizen says Daugaard is "optimistic" about his proposal.
USDA to survey 2,900 South Dakota farmers about plans SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will be sending surveys to some 2,900 farmers in South Dakota to determine their plans for the upcoming growing season. The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service conducts its March Agricultural Survey to provide the first survey-based estimates of South Dakota producers' planting intentions for the year. The USDA says the survey provides factual data that underpins projections, making it one of the most important surveys the service conducts each year. The statistics service will mail the survey questionnaire in February and compile and analyze the information for a March 31 release.
State House committee approves abortion information measure PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A measure that would require abortion providers to tell women undergoing drug-induced abortions that they may be able to have a live birth if they change their mind has passed through a legislative committee. The House State Affairs committee voted unanimously to approve the bill. It now heads to the full chamber. The measure would require practitioners to inform women undergoing medical abortions, in which two drugs are taken separately, that they may be able to discontinue the abortion if they don't take the second drug. Republican Rep. Leslie Heinemann says it "behooves" lawmakers to provide that opportunity. Mitch Richter is a lobbyist for the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families. He says the bill is an example of politics getting in the way of good health care.
Teen dies in head-on crash near Harrisburg HARRISBURG, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Highway Patrol says a 16-year-old Canton girl was killed in a head-on crash in southeastern South Dakota. The patrol says the crash happened Sunday morning near Harrisburg and Alysen Voss was killed at the scene. Troopers say 41-year-old Brandi Brouwer of Harrisburg suffered minor injuries and was taken to a Sioux Falls hospital. Troopers say the teenage driver's vehicle crossed the center line on State Highway 11 and hit Brouwer's vehicle. Neither vehicle had passengers.
Teacher pay tax hike set for debate in legislative committee PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A legislative panel is set to take up the half-cent sales tax increase that helps fund Gov. Dennis Daugaard's teacher pay plan. The House Committee on Appropriations will consider the tax measure Monday. More than $60 million from the hike would go toward the teacher salary plan. House Republican leader Brian Gosch is pursuing a separate avenue that would raise teacher pay without increasing taxes. Gosch says one proposal would use current state dollars and put $30 million toward teacher pay in the first year, $20 million in the second year and $20 million in the third year. Gosch says he wants feedback from Daugaard before releasing the full details. The governor's office says Daugaard is "optimistic" about his proposal and declined to comment about private conversations with legislative leaders.
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