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  1. In the wake of a 2022 News Watch poll showing that 79% of South Dakota voters felt civility was declining in America, state lawmakers say they have taken steps to improve decorum during the 2023 legislative session. Many observers believe they have succeeded and that a smoother process and better laws are the result.
  2. Democracy, elections, civic engagement and the media will be topics of discussion at a Democracy Conference to be held on the campus of the University of South Dakota on March 10. South Dakota News Watch is a co-sponsor of the event,
  3. South Dakota received nearly $14 billion in federal stimulus funds during the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped the state, businesses and individuals survive and recover from the greatest health and economic disaster to hit the U.S. in nearly a century. In this exclusive report from South Dakota News Watch, find out where the money came from and where it went.
  4. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem cites state open records law as the basis for her decision not to allow the press or public to know who stays at the historic state-owned Norbeck summer cabin in Custer State Park. The governor's stance against openness on use of the cabin -- and rejection of a formal information request by South Dakota News Watch -- has reignited a long-standing debate over whether information about use of the taxpayer-supported cabin should be made public.
  5. South Dakota taxpayers are being asked to spend millions of dollars more than expected to complete state construction projects that were approved in prior years. High inflation and rising labor costs are major reasons that the Legislature is considering nine separate bills that would approve higher spending on projects to build new labs, dorms and classroom buildings, an athletics complex and the state health lab.
  6. South Dakota law makes it illegal for in-state physicians and pharmacists to dispense medical abortion drugs to women, but some women are still obtaining medications needed to terminate a pregnancy by traveling to neighboring states.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
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