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Nick Lowrey

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  1. The testing process to confirm cases of COVID-19 has been slow and inconsistent in South Dakota, but for now, experts say the painful and sometimes inaccurate test is the state's only way to track cases and to guide public policy.
  2. Businesses and employees are suffering from a lack of income due to the loss of tourism caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and South Dakota municipalities and state government stand to lose millions in sales tax revenues from the reduction in spending by tourists.
  3. South Dakota lawmakers will consider a bill to delay municipal elections scheduled for April in Sioux Falls, Brookings and other cities, and to give Gov. Kristi Noem the power to delay the June 2 presidential primary until late July due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. The election bill is one of several virus-measures lawmakers may consider on the final day of the 2020 legislative session on Monday, March 30 to respond to the coronavirus that is slowly spreading across the state.
  4. If the COVID-19 epidemic gains a foothold in South Dakota, experts here and elsewhere are doubtful the state's medical infrastructure will be able to house and care for an influx of severely ill patients. Top medical providers in the state say they are ready to handle more cases, but it is hard for the public to know how many intensive-care beds or ventilators are ready because the providers and state officials will not release data on numbers or availability.
  5. A strong reputation and strong relationships have helped Sioux Falls attorney Matt McCaulley position himself as both a top adviser to Gov. Kristi Noem and as a lobbyist for numerous private entities across the state. McCaulley shuns publicity and operates mostly behind-the-scenes of the legislative process. But his dual role in working for Noem, while continuing to lobby for 16 private clients, has drawn some criticism in Pierre.
  6. A legislative battle is heating up in Pierre between municipal electric utilities and rural electric co-operatives over a law that allows cities to take over rural electric customers and infrastructure when annexations take place. The co-ops are supporting a bill that would give them more rights when cities expand and take customers and revenues away from the rural providers. Municipalities say the law helps them attract development; the co-ops say the taking of more customers could lead to higher rates for rural customers.
  7. A California energy company plans to install technology at South Dakota dairy farms that will capture methane from manure and convert it into natural gas. Three Sioux Falls-area dairy farms are signed on to the program that will create a new revenue stream for the farmers, generate a source of renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  8. The state Legislative Research Council modernized its bill filing and tracking system this session, but some people in Pierre worry it has reduced public access to the legislative process.
  9. In a win for wildlife management, North American elk are migrating from the Black Hills and expanding onto the prairies much farther east. But farmers and ranchers on the open prairie are pushing for a new elk hunting season because the large herbivores consume significant quantities of livestock feed and cause damage to fences and other property.
  10. Whether due to obesity, diabetes, smoking, a lack of access to health care or mistakes at hospitals, mothers in South Dakota and the United States have far higher rates of death and complications due to childbirth than most industrialized countries, such as Canada and the U.K. Now, a new effort is underway in South Dakota to better understand the causes and to curtail a type of death seen as mostly preventable.
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