Panel deadlocks on sex-selection abortion ban A South Dakota bill to ban sex-selective abortions will remain in committee after a 3-3 vote. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee's action will allow the bill's sponsors to address concerns. The bill would make abortions based on the fetus' gender illegal. Physicians who perform such an abortion could be charged with a felony. Opponents and supporters of the bill say that sex selective abortions are sexist and wrong. Supporters add that the bill is necessary because gender-determining tests are more and more effective and easier to obtain. Opponents say it chips away at abortion rights and promotes racial profiling of Asian-American women. One committee member says the bill places the burden on doctors rather than mothers. The committee will revisit the bill with possible amendments later this week. Panel endorses broadening domestic abuse law A South Dakota legislative panel has approved a measure that would expand the state's domestic abuse laws to cover dating couples who don't live together. Current law defines domestic abuse as harm or the fear of harm committed by family or household members against spouses, former spouses, some relatives, people who live in the same household or people who have a child together. The House Judiciary Committee voted 8-5 to pass a bill that would broaden coverage to include people who are in or have been in a significant romantic relationship with each other or are expecting a child with each other. The measure, passed earlier by the Senate, now goes to the full House. It was written by a study committee after lawmakers rejected a similar measure last year.
Senate passes waterfowl hunting license bill The South Dakota Senate has passed a measure aimed at ending years of argument over nonresident waterfowl hunting. Senators voted 33-2 to approve a bill that would return more control over those licenses to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission, which regulates hunting and fishing. The bill would keep the current authorization for 4,000 10-day licenses and 2,000 three-day licenses for out-of-state hunters, but would eliminate provisions that allocate some licenses to specific counties. The Game, Fish and Parks Commission could increase the number of those nonresident licenses by up to 5 percent a year and decide where those licenses could be used to hunt ducks and geese. The House earlier passed a different version, and will now decide whether to accept changes made by the Senate.
Shutdown cost national parks at least $414M The Obama administration says the government shutdown last fall resulted in nearly 8 million fewer visitors to national parks, costing the parks and surrounding communities an estimated $414 million in lost visitor spending. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the shutdown was a striking reminder that national parks are a powerful economic engine for local economies across the country. The report released Monday said five states, including California and Arizona, lost more than $20 million during the 16-day shutdown. Six states received permission to reopen national parks within their borders using state money. The report said those states generated nearly $10 in visitor spending for every dollar spent. Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota and Tennessee all reopened parks. A bill is pending in Congress to reimburse those states.
Bill would penalize hosts of underage drinking A South Dakota House committee has endorsed a bill that would penalize people who knowingly allow underage drinking on property they control. State law already makes it illegal to provide alcohol to anyone younger than 21. But Sen. Larry Lucas of Mission says a loophole in the law provides no penalty for those who allow underage drinking on their property but do not provide the alcohol. The bill would make it a misdemeanor for anyone to knowingly permit underage drinking on premises they own or rent. The maximum penalty would be one year in jail and a $2,000 fine for allowing drinking by those younger than 18. The maximum penalty would be 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for allowing drinking by those aged 18 to 20.
Legislature passes bill protecting student data The South Dakota House has unanimously passed a bill Monday to protect the privacy of student data. It received unanimous support through the Senate and committee process. The state Education Secretary said last Friday that the measure will put into law what the department already does. The debate around the Common Core State Standards raised concerns that more student data from online assessments would be shared with outside parties including the federal government. Under the bill, schools cannot be required to collect personal data from students about behavior, mental health and religious preference. Any information shared with the federal government could not include identifying information about individual students. The measure goes to Gov. Dennis Daugaard for final approval.
Midwest economic survey index drops slightly A monthly economic index for nine Midwestern and Plains states has dropped slightly but still suggests growth over the next three to six months. The overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index fell to 57.4 in February from 57.7 in January. Looking six months ahead, the business confidence portion of the overall index also dropped last month. It hit a still strong 59.7 in February, compared with 62.2 in January. The survey results from supply managers are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth, while a score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
FEMA approves $1 million for blizzard clean-up State officials say the Federal Emergency Management Agency will award more than $1 million to the city of Rapid City for debris clean-up from an October blizzard. Public Safety Secretary Trevor Jones says the public-assistance funds are being provided to reimburse the city for eligible costs of cleaning up storm debris following the October blizzard. The FEMA money is to cover 80 percent of the cost of clean-up work done within 90 days of the blizzard. The state of South Dakota will provide an additional $126,000, which represents 10 percent of the eligible expenses. The city is responsible for the remaining 10 percent. Rapid City is participating in a pilot program through which FEMA reimburses a greater cost share if debris removal is expedited.
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