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PNS Daily Newscast - April 20, 2018 


The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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Legislative Session Has Rural Effects

January 11, 2010

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Dropping road revenues and rising highway maintenance costs have state lawmakers searching for solutions and looking for support, as the 2010 South Dakota legislative session gets underway this week.

A summer study committee recommended a ten-cent increase in fuel taxes, along with major increases in vehicle license and registration fees, to raise millions of dollars for highways. John Kerstien, legislative director for the South Dakota Farmers Union, points out that some important details have been omitted from the proposal – details that are necessary to ensure rural areas aren't left behind when projects are funded.

"There's nothing set aside for counties and townships. It's going to just go to the general transportation fund, I guess, and we really don't like that, because we feel it's an unbalanced tax, on agriculture and on rural areas."

While his organization did not do a formal survey of its membership about the bill, Kerstien says he has heard similar reactions around the state.

"I held a roundtable up in Faith – oh, about a month ago, I guess – and I ran the question by them, if they would support a new fuel tax. And of course, it was overwhelmingly 'no,' because they never see any help."

Another issue Farmers Union members will be watching carefully this session is an animal welfare act. Kerstein calls it a "misguided protection bill" that could cripple livestock producers.

"If it's anything like the bill last year, it's way too broad, way too open to interpretation of somebody driving down the road, thinking they see animal cruelty going on and not really understanding the situation."

Supporters of strengthening the state's animal cruelty laws say there are provisions to protect farmers and ranchers. They see stricter laws as important, citing the ties between animal cruelty and domestic violence, as well as other violent crimes.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD