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  1. South Dakota lawmakers appear poised to pass at least one significant tax cut during the 2023 legislative session, but with negotiations ongoing, it is unclear which tax will be cut and who will benefit. Making that choice -- to cut the food tax, to cut the overall sales tax or to reduce property taxes -- will depend on political considerations and whether the state's revenue surplus is seen as temporary or more permanent.
  2. A bill now under consideration by the state Legislature seeks to find the right balance in assessment of juvenile offenders to determine which should be sent back to school and which should be sent to jail. Developing a suitable assessment tool and process has proven challenging as school officials say they are handling too many delinquents but advocates for reform at the same time push for greater alternatives to juvenile incarcerations.
  3. Peter Smith, CEO of the Rural Office of Community Services, remains director of the South Dakota non-profit social services agency despite being the subject of a workplace sexual harassment and retaliation investigation by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Investigation that resulted in a $320,000 settlement payment to several former female employees.
  4. The ongoing teacher shortage in South Dakota public schools is worsening at a time when political pressure on educators is rising, the teaching profession has been devalued by some government officials, and Gov. Kristi Noem has proposed a reduction in new education funding for 2023-24 compared to 2022-23. Meanwhile, colleges and school districts are seeking their own solutions to encourage young people to enter the teaching profession.
  5. As invasive zebra mussels have spread west across South Dakota, now infecting Pactola Reservoir in the Black Hills, a growing number of advocates and officials have criticized what they say is a slow and inadequate response by Gov. Kristi Noem and the Legislature to prevent further spread of the mussels that can damage waterways, infrastructure and fisheries.
  6. Supporters of the "cottage foods" industry in South Dakota say a new law will make it easier for producers of homemade food products to legally and safely sell their wares directly to consumers by eliminating costly and time-consuming food testing requirements.
  7. Though the state pheasant hunting industry remains on a historic downward slide -- and hunting has become more difficult for residents who access public lands -- hunters, state officials and business owners report that the 2022 season is off to a strong start.
  8. In order to keep the American Dream of homeownership obtainable in South Dakota, more affordable housing is needed to allow for entry into the housing market, especially for first-time homebuyers, a group of experts said in a News Watch panel discussion held Dec. 15, 2022.
  9. A NEWS WATCH SPECIAL REPORT: Is the American Dream of homeownership fading in South Dakota? While that is open to debate, a combination of several economic and market factors has added volatility and uncertainty to the typically stable South Dakota real estate market and unquestionably made it harder for many South Dakota residents to obtain homeownership.
  10. Veteran journalist and communications professional Carson Walker of Sioux Falls has been hired as the first chief executive officer for South Dakota News Watch, effective Jan. 1, 2023. 
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