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Stu Whitney

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  1. A record level of new federal funding will help the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System expand and provide more drinking water to southeastern South Dakota. The expanded system will be better equipped to provide clean water from the Missouri River to the greater Sioux Falls region, even with continued population growth and extended drought conditions.
  2. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed additional stress on students in South Dakota and across the country, many who were already suffering mental health issues. School counselors are playing a larger role in helping students remain healthy and avoid pressure that can lead to health problems and even suicide.
  3. Opposition and threats of financial consequences were lower in the 2022 South Dakota Legislative session for lawmakers and Gov. Kristi Noem as they successfully passed a ban on transgender athletes participating in female athletics. Part of the political cover came from a collegiate athlete from Pennsylvania, who eventually became the first openly transgender person to win a national championship, awarded in women's swimming.
  4. An Iraq War veteran from Webster, S.D., is suffering from tremors and anxiety after returning home from service abroad where he was exposed to toxic fumes from burn pits, but so far, he has been unable to receive disability or medical benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  5. Open meetings advocates in South Dakota are increasingly concerned about new legal language that some government officials believe gives them the right to exclude members of the public from speaking or asking questions at public meetings. Recent school-related personnel incidents in Garretson and Rapid City have drawn attention to the willingness of public officials to operate without input from residents.
  6. Supporters of a movement to improve education of Native American students in South Dakota suffered a setback when a proposed charter school measure was defeated in the state Legislature on March 2. But members of an expert panel convened by South Dakota News Watch say they will push forward on efforts to reform public education and create opportunities for better educational outcomes for Native students.
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