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Nick Lowrey

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. South Dakota News Watch sponsored a virtual town hall on higher education on Dec. 7; top experts in education shared views on a number of topics, including ways to reduce barriers to a college degree.
  5. With COVID-19 vaccine approval at hand, experts say the rural nature of South Dakota, the state's limited capability to store and distribute the vaccine and reluctance by some residents to take the vaccine could slow the delivery and reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines.
  6. As COVID-19 continues to hospitalize and kill more people in South Dakota, declining capacity in state hospitals to care for patients with the most severe symptoms has forced some patients to board planes for emergency treatment in other states. Medical experts warn the situation could worsen if a post-Thanksgiving spike in COVID-19 cases arrives as expected or if coronavirus cases continue to increase for any reason.
  7. Opposition to legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in South Dakota centered in part on concerns that youth use of the drug would increase after legalization, and prevention advocates and law enforcement officials remain worried now that voters approved both forms of legal pot on Nov. 3. But a review of research studies and data from states where it is already legal provides mixed results and few firm conclusions about legalization's effects on youth.
  8. Two veterans of national political journalism told a South Dakota audience that they should expect ongoing turmoil in the coming months as President Donald Trump fights to retain his post and President-elect Joe Biden attempts to prepare to transition into the presidency. The pair -- USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page and Axios co-founder Jim VandeHei -- spoke during a virtual town hall sponsored by South Dakota News Watch on Nov. 9.
  9. Restrictions on movement and commerce intended to protect tribal populations from COVID-19 have hurt small businesses on Indian reservations in South Dakota. Reservation-based businesses have also struggled to take advantage of federal pandemic aid programs, leaving many owners and operators wondering if their businesses will survive.
  10. Home sales and prices are up in Sioux Falls, Rapid City and elsewhere in South Dakota, driven by what realtors say is a rise in relocations to the state by out-of-state residents seeking lower taxes, more home for their money, wide-open spaces and freedom from restrictions related to COVID-19 imposed by other states.
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