South Dakota News Watch

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South Dakota criminal and civil traffic laws favor drivers over pedestrians in collisions


South Dakota traffic laws place more responsibility on pedestrians to be on the lookout for errant drivers than they do for drivers to watch out for walkers, joggers and cyclists when it comes to assigning liability in vehicle versus pedestrian accidents. The state criminal and civil laws are unique among Great Plains states in the high level of responsibility for […]

S.D. sheep farmers hurting as pandemic reduces demand and processing capacity


In March 2020, the sheep-farming industry in South Dakota — the sixth-largest in the country — was humming along nicely. After a few sluggish decades, prices for meat and wool were at or near all-time highs and markets were stable. Fine-dining restaurants and the cruise-line industry continued to fuel strong demand for South Dakota lamb. And the annual massive sales […]

Crash experts question Ravnsborg’s car-deer explanation


An experienced traffic-accident reconstruction expert is casting doubt on the claim made by South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg that he thought he hit a deer with his car the night of Sept. 12 when in fact he had struck and killed a man. Kurt Weiss is a mechanical engineer who has 34 years of experience in reconstructing hundreds of […]

Family of victim in attorney general crash worry if investigation will be thorough


Two cousins of the man killed when a car driven by South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg struck him say they worry the investigation into the incident is not being handled properly. Victor and Nick Nemec are both cousins of Joseph Boever, 55, who was killed when Ravnsborg struck him with his car along U.S. Highway 14 west of Highmore, […]

S.D. election officials say vote-by-mail and voting at polls will be safe and fair


Editor’s note: This article was produced through a partnership between South Dakota News Watch and the Solutions Journalism Network, a national non-profit group that supports rigorous journalism about responses to problems. The people who will operate and oversee the 2020 general election in South Dakota are highly confident that the vote for president, Congress, legislative seats and statewide ballot measures […]

Concerns arise over merger of S.D. agricultural and environmental agencies


Some South Dakota farmers, ranchers and environmental advocates are concerned about Gov. Kristi Noem’s plan to combine the state Department of Agriculture and Department of Environment and Natural Resources into a single agency and are wondering what the new agency could mean for the state’s largest industry and the regulation of agricultural practices and pollution. So far, almost no details […]

South Dakota restaurants battle for survival amid pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic has hit South Dakota restaurants harder than just about any other industry in the state. Six months into the pandemic, with the state economy mostly open for business, restaurants across the state are still struggling to make ends meet and keep their doors open as patrons and employees worry about spreading the potentially deadly coronavirus. Since the […]

Many S.D. teachers on their own when adding safety barriers in classrooms

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South Dakota public school teachers are largely on their own when it comes to building and installing protective barriers for their classrooms that may reduce the spread of the coronavirus among their students and themselves. With no statewide policy in place, and little or no guidance from individual school districts, thousands of teachers across the state have had to use […]

As COVID-19 cases rise, experts question effectiveness of contact tracing in S.D.

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Editor’s note: This article was produced through a partnership between South Dakota News Watch and the Solutions Journalism Network, a national non-profit group that supports rigorous journalism about responses to problems. Public health experts are questioning the extent and effectiveness of contact-tracing efforts in South Dakota and across the country, arguing that an inadequate number of investigators and lags in […]

Financially strapped renters in S.D. seek help avoiding eviction amid pandemic


Many people who rent homes or apartments in South Dakota are hurting financially during the pandemic, causing large numbers of renters to ask for public assistance or charitable help to stave off eviction and maintain a stable residence. More than twice as many South Dakotans have looked to taxpayers or charities to cover at least one month of rent in […]


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