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Danielle Ferguson

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  1. Businesses across South Dakota are struggling to find employees as the pool of available workers has fallen since the COVID-19 pandemic. While the labor shortage could force employers to raise wages and benefits, it could also slow the state's economic growth and upend the opportunity for a post-pandemic surge in the state economy.
  2. Two prominent economists from South Dakota say that eliminating the state sales tax on food purchases could benefit low-income families that already struggle to meet basic needs. South Dakota is one of only three states that charges the full state sales tax on grocery purchases; meanwhile, legislative efforts to reduce or eliminate the sales tax on food have consistently failed.
  3. As the vaccination rate of adults against COVID-19 has stalled in South Dakota, medical experts say more children and young adults must get vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity in the state. Getting children and young adults vaccinated will also protect them from potentially devastating long-term health effects from the coronavirus, experts say.
  4. Some South Dakota residents are being denied the dream of homeownership due to skyrocketing housing prices driven by a rush of out-of-state buyers with more purchasing power and low inventory of affordable homes. Meanwhile, the seller's market in South Dakota is pushing rental rates higher, further straining the ability of low- and middle-income residents to improve their living conditions or obtain the long-range benefits of home ownership.
  5. Child advocates in South Dakota worry that child abuse cases spiked and were more severe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that a reduction in formal reports of cases may have allowed some child abuse to continue unabated.
  6. Increasing difficulty in finding new volunteers and adequate funding have put rural ambulance services in South Dakota at risk of closure, leaving rural residents in danger of enduring longer response times in emergencies or even a total loss of access to emergency transportation. When a Meade County service collapsed in 2020, it meant some people were an hour away from getting emergency help.
  7. South Dakota News Watch hosted a panel discussion on April 14, 2021 in which four education experts shared their views on the South Dakota Civics and History Initiative now in development for state public K-12 schools.
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