National Guard to Host 34th Annual Golden Coyote Exercise

The South Dakota National Guard will host its 34th annual Golden Coyote training exercise in the Black Hills June 9-23 to provide military units with relevant training opportunities in support of overseas contingency operations and homeland defense.

Created in 1984 with the cooperation of the National Forest Service and Custer State Park, this year’s exercise will allow about 2,100 service members to conduct combat-support and service-support missions in a realistic training environment and provide valuable services to the public.

There will be about 30 military units from 10 states and two foreign nations (Denmark and Canada) participating in the exercise from multiple branches of military service – Army, Navy and Air Force – working together to create an invaluable training experience. Participating units conduct military operations, train on their equipment and employ tactics, and complete various humanitarian missions and engineer projects that help improve the forest and infrastructure of many communities.

Local residents receive numerous benefits from the many engineer projects conducted during the exercise. Units transport timber to Native American communities that use it as firewood, conduct building construction, repair and upgrades, identify hazardous wilderness areas and make them safe for public use, and resurface local roadways that have fallen into disrepair.

Units participate in many training tasks and battle drills such as combat patrols, urban combat operations, land navigation, first aid, casualty evacuation and convoy operations. This provides a valuable opportunity for units to train on skills needed for any future overseas deployment.

Residents should be aware of an increase in military traffic throughout the region and in the communities of Rapid City, Hill City and Custer and can expect an increase in noise levels due to military training. Aircraft will be operating throughout the area and will respond to real-world emergencies during the exercise and remain in an all-hours-ready status. The public is asked to remain at a safe distance from all moving military vehicles and aircraft to prevent injury to personnel or damage to property.

United States Supreme Court Sides with Religious Freedom Case Joined by Jackley

Attorney General Marty Jackley announced the United States Supreme Court, in support of a Colorado cake artist’s constitutionally protected right to religious freedom, has reversed a civil rights commission ruling in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

“I’m proud to have stood with my fellow attorneys general to take a stand for religious freedom in this historic case,” Jackley said. “This is a victory for South Dakota, and I will continue to fight for the rights of all Americans to express their faith.”

Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, appealed a state court decision he lost after he declined to create a cake because of his deeply-held religious belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

The Court recognized, the Commission’s treatment of Phillip’s case violated the State’s duty under the First Amendment not to base laws or regulations on hostility to a religion or religious viewpoint.

South Dakota joined a 20 state coalition of Attorneys General in an amicus brief in September 2017.


The 32nd Anniversary of the Spirit of Dakota Award will be celebrated in Huron this fall. The Spirit of Dakota Award Society is seeking nominations. The recipient will be announced at a banquet at the Huron Event Center on Saturday, October 6. The nine-foot bronze statue in front of the Event Center created by internationally known sculptor Dale Lamphere of Sturgis, is the inspiration for this award.

The 2018 Spirit of Dakota Award honoree will be chosen by a state-wide Selection Commission including First Lady Linda Daugaard of Pierre; Glenna Fouberg, Aberdeen; Julie Garreau, Eagle Butte; Jean Hunhoff, Yankton; Tona Rozum, Chair, Mitchell; Suzette Kirby, Sioux Falls; Marsha Sumpter, Kodoka; Ginger Thomson, Brookings; Judy Trzynka, Watertown; and Bev Wright, Turton. The nomination process is open to all interested individuals or organizations who wish to recognize an outstanding woman in their community.

This award is presented to an outstanding South Dakota woman who has demonstrated vision, courage and strength in character and who has made a significant contribution to the quality of life in her community and state. The nominee does not need to be a native of South Dakota, but must be a living resident of the state. There is no age criterion for this award.

Past recipients have included community leaders in business, government and civic organizations and have been described in newspaper articles as “the cream of the crop in terms of South Dakota’s best.”

Nomination forms are available by contacting the Huron Area Chamber of Commerce, 1725 Dakota Ave S, Huron, SD 57350 (1-800-487-6673) or online at

Sustained Effort Needed to Reduce Infant Mortality

South Dakota’s infant mortality rate increased in 2017, according to new data released today by the Department of Health. There were 12,128 births in 2017 and 94 infant deaths for a rate of 7.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The state reported its lowest ever American Indian infant mortality rate of 8.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. The white infant mortality rate was 7 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2016, South Dakota reported a rate of 4.8 deaths per 1,000 live births. Although the state’s infant mortality rate increased in 2017, the average infant mortality rate for the five-year period from 2013 to 2017 is the lowest ever recorded at 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.

“Infant mortality is a complex and multi-faceted issue, and the latest data demonstrates that sustained effort is needed to ensure more South Dakota babies celebrate their first birthday,” said First Lady Linda Daugaard, who chaired the 2011 Governor’s Task Force on Infant Mortality. “We must continue to promote safe sleep guidelines for infants, help pregnant women stop smoking and encourage early prenatal care.”

South Dakota data shows babies are twice as likely to die before their first birthday if their mothers smoke during pregnancy. In 2017, 12.6 percent of pregnant women smoked while pregnant, down from 19.4 percent in 2007. The data also shows 72.2 percent of pregnant women in South Dakota received prenatal care in the first trimester.

“Infant mortality is considered a gold standard for measuring the health of a population,” said Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Secretary of Health. “The Department of Health, in cooperation with partners, is committed to offering statewide services and providing community support to improve the health of all South Dakotans.”

The First Lady noted the state’s Cribs for Kids program has distributed 9,759 safe sleep kits to families in need since its launch in 2012. The kits include a Pack ‘N Play crib, sheet, infant sleep sack, pacifier and safe sleep educational materials.

Learn more about healthy pregnancies and safe sleep guidelines at

Voters to Decide Victim’s Rights

All registered voters get to decide on June 5 whether South Dakota Constitution should be changed regarding victim rights.

The question is whether guarantees now reach too far, after voters adopted Marcy’s Law in the November 2016 general election.

The legislature decided voters should consider the matter again. State lawmakers in the senate voted 27-8 and 61-6 in the house to put another set of changes on the June ballot.

Among those asking the rights be reined back somewhat are county sheriffs and county prosecutors.

Costs for counties required to implement the new amendment saw prices balloon.

The state’s four largest counties spent $500,000 in the years after the amendment took effect aiming to comply with its requirements.

If approved, the amendment would narrow the definition of victim under the state’s constitution and require that those impacted by criminal offenses opt into special protections.

The amendment would also shrink the pool of family members that can receive victim protection status under law and allow law enforcement officers to share more information about unsolved crimes.

The proposal will need a majority vote to be approved. If that happens, the measure will take effect on July 1.

Summer Season Kicks Off with Warmer Weather

After a near-record cold April, May 2018 is off to a warmer than average start across much of South Dakota.

“It appears as if this trend will continue into June, as the dive into summer continues,” said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension State Climatologist.

In fact, temperatures across the state were above average for the first 16 days of the month.

“Most locations were two to five degrees warmer than usual for this time of year. A handful of locations in the Black Hills, south central and northeast have been more than five degrees above average so far,” she said.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Outlook for June 2018, released May 17, leans towards warmer than average as well. “Current forecast projections show very good chances that the end of May and early June will be warmer than typical for this time of year in the Northern Plains,” Edwards said.


Rainfall across South Dakota, as of May 17 has been variable, with the southeast portion of the state experiencing especially wet conditions, which brought many rivers to flood stage in early May.

“The eastern rivers have receded now that all the snowmelt has runoff, but water is still high after some recent rain events,” Edwards said.

There have also been some local rain events in west central and northwestern counties, but the total for the last two weeks is only about an inch to 1.5 inches.

The southwest and northeast continue to be the driest areas of the state in the last one to two months.

“A look ahead into June’s climate outlook does not provide much information for precipitation. The latest map shows equal chances of drier, wetter and near average moisture for the month ahead,” she said, and explained that this is not unusual for the Northern Plains. “It is often difficult to predict spring and summer season storms. This is good news, and bad news, for those who are dry in the north, but also those that are too wet in the south and want to make some more progress in planting, fertilizer and early pesticide application.”

The U.S. Drought Monitor map, released May 17, shows that a new area of moderate drought was introduced in northeastern South Dakota, along the North Dakota border.

“This area has been much drier than average for the last 30 to 60 days. Soil moisture is also dry for this time of year,” Edwards said. “This has allowed spring wheat, corn and soybean planting to move ahead rapidly, but continued rainfall will be crucial for the rest of the spring season.”

In the west, despite some recent precipitation, Edwards explained that it has not yet been sufficient to bring the area completely out of drought. “Moderate drought remains over a large area of western South Dakota,” she said. “Stock ponds filled with early spring runoff, but grasses and pastures will need more time to recover from the last one to two years of drought. This area has overall been slightly drier than average since April 1, which is a critical moisture period for cool season grasses.”


South Dakota State Fleet Used 2 Million Gallons of Ethanol

The South Dakota state vehicle fleet burned nearly 2 million gallons of ethanol-blended fuels in the last year, according to the South Dakota Bureau of Administration. From mid-May 2017 through mid-May 2018, its fleet of almost 4,000 vehicles utilized 1.91 million gallons of E-10, E-30 and E-85 fuels during the year.

“We have been increasing the number of flex-fuel vehicles we purchase each year,” said Bureau of Administration Commissioner Scott Bollinger. “As older vehicles wear out, we look to replace them with flex-fuel models.”

Ethanol is available at 95 different state fueling sites across South Dakota. The Division of Fleet and Travel Management has installed E-30 pumps at three of the state’s largest fueling sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Brookings. Recent decreases in ethanol prices have made E-30 a viable cost-savings option.

Of South Dakota’s entire state fleet, which includes hundreds of vehicles that burn diesel and other fuels, 65 percent regularly use an ethanol-blended fuel.

“South Dakota is a national leader when it comes to utilizing ethanol in its state vehicle fleet,” Bollinger noted. “Ethanol helps our agriculture community, burns cleaner and is saving us money.”

Attorney General Jackley Joins Fight Against Planned Parenthood and State Funding of Abortion Clinics

Attorney General Marty Jackley has joined an amicus brief filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by 12 Attorneys General. The brief challenges a decision that permanently enjoins a state statute prohibiting pubic funds from being used to perform abortions.

“The United States Supreme Court has recognized that States have an interest in protecting and fostering respect for human life,” said Jackley. “I will continue to protect innocent life, and vigorously defend state policy that forbids taxpayer funded abortions.”

In the brief, the Attorneys General argue the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit conflicts with prior U.S. Supreme Court precedent. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that a woman’s right to an abortion does not entitle her to public funding for her exercise of that right.

Amendment Y Seeks to Fix “Marsy’s Law”

By Dana Hess
For the S.D. Newspaper Association

BROOKINGS — While most of the interest in the June 5 primary is directed to Republicans seeking nominations for the governorship and the U.S. House of Representatives, there is one measure on the ballot open to all registered voters in the state.

Amendment Y seeks to provide a fix for the unintended consequences that sprang up when voters approved Marsy’s Law in 2016.

Designed to protect the rights of crime victims, passage of Marsy’s Law caused some counties to invest heavily in victims’ rights personnel who then spent much of their time contacting the victims of petty crimes. Law enforcement officers found themselves handcuffed when it came to releasing the locations of crimes, essentially drying up their source of crime tips from the public.

Amendment Y allows law enforcement to share information in order to solve crimes and allows victims to opt in to the Marsy’s Law rights rather than having them apply automatically. The amendment also prevents anyone who feels their Marsy’s Law rights have been violated from filing a lawsuit.

“It really strengthen victims’ rights,” said Mark Mickelson, speaker of the state House of Representatives and the sponsor of House Joint Resolution 1004, the measure that put Amendment Y on the June ballot.

Marsy’s Law named for murder victim

Marsy’s Law is named for Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, a California college student who was stalked and killed by an ex-boyfriend. Marsy’s Law ballot measures have been bankrolled by her brother, billionaire Henry Nicholas.

Marsy’s Law measures have been passed in five states—South Dakota, North Dakota, Illinois, Ohio and California. It’s on the November ballot in five more states—Oklahoma, Nevada, Kentucky, Georgia and Florida.

South Dakota would be the first of the Marsy’s Law states to tweak the legislation. While originally seeking to overturn Marsy’s Law, Mickelson negotiated Amendment Y with the backers of the victims’ rights legislation.

“We support Amendment Y because it protects those rights while enhancing the ability of law enforcement agencies to work together and solve crimes,” said Sarah Shriver, South Dakota Communications Director for Marsy’s Law for All.

Unintended consequences pile up

After the passage of Marsy’s Law, the larger counties in South Dakota invested in more victims’ rights personnel. Many of the victim notifications they make are for minor crimes, but they are still required by the law.

Mickelson said allowing victims to opt in to Marsy’s Law will allow those counties to cut expenses or redirect their efforts to offer more help to the victims of felonies. The Sioux Falls Republican estimates that Marsy’s Law is costing counties between $500,000 and $1 million annually.

One consequence causing heartburn for media outlets is the Department of Public Safety’s decision to wait three days before releasing the names of accident victims.

According to Jenna Howell, an attorney with DPS, an opinion from the attorney general allowed accident victims to opt in on whether to invoke their rights. Howell said victims need some time to handle the anguish of a major accident.

“We don’t think it’s fair to have them decide on the side of the road,” Howell said.

That leaves media outlets relying on other sources. In Watertown, an accident victim’s name was unavailable to the Public Opinion for it’s story, but was presented in the same edition in the victim’s obituary.

“There’s something wrong with the system when the government isn’t releasing the names but we’re getting the name from the funeral home,” said Roger Whittle, editor of the Public Opinion.

“If it’s a particularly bad crash, we’ll learn who’s involved through social media,” said Elisa Sand, a reporter for the Aberdeen American News, “but we’d rather get that information from law enforcement.”

DPS isn’t likely to change the way it reports accidents, according to Howell, even if Amendment Y passes.

“Marsy’s law isn’t binding on social media or the public,” Howell said. “It’s just binding on the government.”

Amendment vote during primary an oddity

Mickelson said he pushed for including the vote on Amendment Y on the June ballot to save counties money and to open up records for the families of accident victims who are still waiting for reports.

If Amendment Y passes in June, it would go into effect July 1. If it was on the November ballot, Mickelson explained, it would not go into effect until July of 2019.

“If we did it in November, we’d have to wait a whole year,” Mickelson said. “That’s why we decided to do it in June.”

Special elections aren’t uncommon for the state, Mickelson said, noting Gov. Bill Janklow’s use of a special election for the sale of the State Cement Plant.

According to Kristin Gabriel of the Secretary of State’s office, “It is uncommon to have a ballot question on the primary election ballot in South Dakota. This is the first time the Legislature has placed a statewide ballot on the primary ballot.”

That decision wasn’t well received by all the members of the Legislature. House Joint Resolution 1004 originally passed through the House 65-0. It was then passed 22-13 in the Senate after being amended to include Amendment Y in the June election. Because of the amendment, HJR1004 had to return to the House were it passed 61-6.

The amendment was enough for a “nay” vote from Spencer Hawley, House Minority Leader from Brookings.

“I support the changes to Marsy’s Law,” Hawley said, “but I am against moving a constitutional amendment to a primary. Usually there is a very low turnout and the Democratic side there are not very many primaries this year.”

One lone anti-Amendment Y voice

The special election is just one of the problems that Cory Heidelberger has with Amendment Y. Heidelberger runs the liberal blog Dakota Free Press in Aberdeen where he is a Democratic candidate for state Senate. He’s also likely the only person speaking out against Amendment Y.

Heidelberger cites the $200,000 the Legislature appropriated for the special election as a sign that Marsy’s Law is costing the state even more than Amendment Y backers say it is.

“It’s costing us more to do this than a regular election in November,” Heidelberger said, noting that Republican primaries dominate the June 5 ballot this year. “It’s kind of a way for the Republicans to pick their voters.”


Milbank Publisher Elected to Lead State’s Newspaper Association

Debbie Hemmer, publisher of the Grant County Review at Milbank, was elected president of the South Dakota Newspaper Association during the group’s 136th annual meeting May 5 in Sioux Falls.

“From the rising costs of production and postage, to social media and cries of fake news, to the battles over publishing public notices, some days it feels like the newspaper industry is under attack from every angle. It may be hard to be optimistic, but it is in times like these that the value of a hometown newspaper shines through,” Hemmer said. “To paraphrase Mark Twain, ‘The reports of the death of newspapers is greatly exaggerated.’ It is the hometown newspaper that puts the spotlight on what truly matters – the community.”

Hemmer added: “A community cannot thrive without a newspaper, and SDNA is here to help newspapers thrive. I’m honored to serve as president of the association, and will look to the good work of the past presidents who have so aptly served for examples to follow as we continue forward in these challenging times.”

Hemmer started her career in the newspaper industry as a typesetter at the Grant County Review in 1980, working for owners Phyllis and Clarence Justice. As is typical at weekly newspapers, she learned other aspects of the business as well.

“Phyllis taught me how to develop film and print photos in the darkroom, and Clarence instructed me on laying out the paper on grid sheets, both processes that we no longer use today,” Hemmer said.

Over time Hemmer took on more responsibilities at the Review, becoming a sports reporter, office manager and news reporter. She became editor after Phyllis Justice entered the nursing home.

In October 2013, Hemmer and fellow employee Holli Seehafer purchased the Review at the urging of Clarence Justice, who had become ill and moved to a nursing home.

Hemmer is the third publisher from Milbank to serve as SDNA president. Phyllis Justice was SDNA president in 1982-83. Henry S. Volkmar of the Milbank Review was president in 1899-1900.

Also elected to the SDNA Board of Directors last week were: first vice president Letitia Lister, publisher of the Black Hills Pioneer at Spearfish; second vice president Beau Ravellette of the Pioneer Review at Philip; third vice president Robert Slocum of the Timber Lake Topic; director Cory Myers, news director at the Argus Leader, Sioux Falls; director LeeAnne Dufek, publisher of the Hamlin County Republican at Castlewood; and immediate past president Kelli Bultena, publisher of the Lennox News.

South Dakota Newspaper Association, founded in 1882 and based in Brookings, represents the state’s 125 weekly and daily newspapers with a total readership of more than 600,000.