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  1. Native American tribes and tribal members in South Dakota may have advantages in entering the legal marijuana market quickly and successfully if legalization becomes final. Sovereign nation status, available land, a ready workforce and nimble government operations have benefited tribes in other states and could also create new economic development opportunities in South Dakota.
  2. Lawmakers have passed and sent to Gov. Kristi Noem a bill to allow the South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation to develop a new type of health benefits plan that would provide affordable coverage to farmers and ranchers but which would operate outside the purview and regulatory oversight of the state Division of Insurance. Backers say it will provide health coverage for thousands of uninsured people in the agriculture industry; opponents say it removes consumer protections and would provide only limited benefits that could put policyholders at risk.
  3. After a slow start during the 2021 legislative session, South Dakota lawmakers and state officials are stepping up the pace of planning and preparation for the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in South Dakota. Both forms are marijuana are set to become legal on July 1 after voters approved a pair of separate ballot measures.
  4. Joyce is a veteran administrator in South Dakota who spent 18 years as director of the Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Society.
  5. A treatment that can reduce symptoms and hospitalizations and possibly prevent deaths due to COVID-19 is widely available in South Dakota and across the country, but health experts say the monoclonal antibody drugs are not being used as often as they could. South Dakota has done well in making the treatments available, but medical providers believe even more people could benefit from the treatment and they are taking steps to increase its use.
  6. The COVID-19 vaccination process has gone well in South Dakota so far, but health officials and medical providers are about to open vaccinations to a new, larger group of people for whom it will be much harder to determine if they qualify for a shot. With only weeks to prepare, the state does not have a firm plan for how to identify, contact and verify the qualification status of people with two underlying medical conditions.
  7. Only one bill has been filed so far regarding regulation of medical and recreational marijuana in South Dakota, both of which become legal on July 1, and lawmakers have a long way to go in creating a solid regulatory framework for legal weed. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are not waiting for the Legislature or courts to act and are making plans to monetize marijuana as soon as it becomes legal.
  8. One positive outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is that more Native Americans living on South Dakota Indian reservations have begun the process to purchase a home, though long-standing barriers remain on reservations to achieving the financial security and family stability that homeownership can provide.
  9. In what has been a busy year due to deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, funeral home directors in South Dakota have had to work longer and harder, endure greater stress than usual and adapt to new ways of helping people grieve for loved-ones they have lost.
  10. From bird-watching to boating, from hiking to hunting, more South Dakotans flocked to outdoor activities as a result of pandemic safety precautions that shut down many indoor activities. Many businesses and state wildlife conservation coffers saw a big financial benefit along the way.
Inform. Enlighten. Illuminate.
About News Watch
South Dakota News Watch is a non-partisan nonprofit organization producing in-depth coverage that sheds light on the issues and concerns of all citizens. As we undertake our fourth full year of operation, we would like to thank our supporters for their generous contributions — during the year-end matching funds campaign and at other times of the year. Because of you, South Dakota News Watch will continue to fulfill its mission of bringing important issues to light, throughout 2021 and beyond.