- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Editors: Please note that The Associated Press welcomes editorial contributions from members for the weekly Editorial Roundup. Three editorials are selected every week. Contributions can be made by email at apsiouxfalls@ap.org.

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The Daily Republic, Mitchell, Oct. 21, 2014

Producers should look into incentives for habitat

Blaze orange filled fields across South Dakota over the weekend.

Yes, the statewide pheasant opener arrived again, and the buzz about pheasant numbers is as prevalent as ever.

From what we hear, bird numbers are up.

That’s great.

Better hunting means a better economy for Mitchell, the surrounding area and all of South Dakota, and it also gives way for great memories for outdoor enthusiasts. Friday night’s Pheasants Forever banquet was sold out, and it was clear its attendees are ever-willing to help fund habitat for the birds.

In Saturday’s edition, we showed the several ways people can help fund the habitat for wildlife, specifically pheasants. Some of the funding mechanisms from the story were directly related to the Governor’s Pheasant Habitat Work Group report, which was presented in September.

Why is it so important that habitat is on the ground?

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation report shows that 13.7 million people aged 16 or older - approximately 6 percent of the United States’ population - went hunting in 2011 and spent a whopping $38.3 billion on equipment, licenses, trips and other hunting-related items.

That report also shows hunting created 680,300 jobs in the United States, and about 11,000 in South Dakota.

Our state sees economic contributions from upland game hunters - mainly people hunting pheasants - higher than any other state. The 2011 report shows pheasant hunting contributed $20 million to state and local tax bases and $25 million in federal taxes.

We’re not ready to get in a battle over whether agriculture is more important to South Dakota’s economy than pheasants and hunting. We know agriculture is, by far, the top industry in the state.

However, South Dakota’s producers should look at all the incentives out there, and keep some of their land in habitat. We understand farming is a business, and producers should make decisions based on that. But we feel any producer can make a good decision by getting paid to put some of their marginal land into wildlife habitat, rather than farm it.

To make sure blaze orange continues filling South Dakota’s fields each year when the statewide pheasant season opens, it’s going to take habitat. And that takes important decisions from producers.

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Public Opinion, Watertown, Oct. 21, 2014

‘Dark Money’ is bad for South Dakota

Have you ever noticed how many ominous phrases are connected with politics? Dirty tricks, negative advertising, half-truths, bold-faced lies, distortions, back-room deals and more have been linked with the political process for decades. The latest is “Dark Money,” a new term this election season and it fits South Dakota’s U.S. Senate race perfectly.

“Dark Money” is the source behind some of the nastiest and dirtiest ads running this election, almost all of them on TV. We don’t like it, and neither should you, and not just because we’re in the print business. We don’t like them because they’re often misleading, self-serving and give no idea of who is providing the money for the ads or why. Sure, they say they are for this candidate or that, but the people behind “Dark Money” are simply using candidates as smoke screens. They have their own agendas, and we don’t know what they are or why they’re interested in South Dakota,

Oh, and by the way, backers of both major parties are doing it, so whomever your favorite candidate is, his/her party is as much at fault on this issue as anybody else is.

Case in point: We just read where the North Carolina Senate seat will be the most expensive Senate race in the history of the United States. Money spent or planned to be spent will top $103 million. If that’s not over the top, we can’t think what is. But the really sad thing - and the part that makes us angry - is nearly 25 percent of that total, $22 million, is from “Dark Money” from individuals and groups who do not disclose their donors.

We’re seeing it here in South Dakota. The closing weeks of our U.S. Senate race has attracted all kinds from all parts of the United States, attempting via the veil of anonymity to vilify and destroy three of the four candidates for our U.S. Senate seat.

That’s just wrong.

We hate watching TV these days because of ads paid for by these groups, and you should feel the same. We’re all for free speech because it’s one of those values we simply can’t get enough of in this business. And even though we don’t like most of what is being played these days on election advertising, we also say spend away on election advertising and spend all that you want.

But with that Free Speech call, we are equally committed to calling for full and immediate disclosure of the names, addresses and phone numbers of those contributing money to all campaigns and ballot issues, including all groups involved in the election process and all political action committees (PACs). That’s a no-brainer for us.

Say or print something negative about my candidate of choice if you will, but I at least ought to know who you are and the reason for the ad. It’s that simple. No anonymity here. Free speech is predicated on it being done in the open and for all to see and hear.

Anonymity and free speech had its place when our nation was being started because reprisals by the British government were real. But today, 238 years later, if your money is attempting to sway my vote, I ought to know your name and where you live. And allow me to ask why you out-of-staters are trying to influence my local race?

This is a federal issue, and to our knowledge all of South Dakota’s federal election candidates are in favor of full disclosure of the names behind the “Dark Money” in our state’s elections. Again, we can’t agree with those who want to go further and restrict campaign funding amounts.

Regardless of whomever wins in November, we will be expecting - and so should you - that they will work hard in crafting new laws that will require full and immediate disclosure of who’s behind campaign cash and why.

But just to be sure . why not ask the various Senate and House candidates if they will do more than just “talk the talk.” Ask them if they will “walk the walk” and introduce legislation in January to require full and immediate disclosure of donor names to political campaigns.

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Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan, Yankton, Oct. 20, 2014

Vision For Highway 52 Taking Shape

The development of Highway 52 west of Yankton is a key component to the local economy. Thus, having at least a vision in place to guide that development is essential.

That vision seems to be coming a little more in focus, according to the discussion at a joint city-county meeting held last week.

During the meeting, Yankton County zoning administrator Pat Garrity said that a zoning overlay for the area between Majestic Bluffs, located on the west edge of Yankton, out to the marina area. The overlay would basically provide the nuts and bolts for the area’s development in regards to lighting, landscaping, structure design and parking.

The details are still being worked out and should be submitted for consideration by the County Commission in late winter or early next spring.

This is an important development in the structuring of the Highway 52 corridor, which is currently a patchwork of ideas without a cohesive, overall vision. It’s a deficiency - which is a fair description of the situation - that county officials have been working on recently.

The overlay would serve as a sort of template for how properties are to be developed. It’s not the same as zoning, which would designate specific areas for specific uses, but it is a necessary component to the project.

Nevertheless, the overlay could have some potent impact of its own. Garrity pointed out that the overlay could encourage storage facilities to be set back farther from the roadway while “more retail or more active” businesses could be put up front, giving a much better overall presentation to the area.

The Highway 52 corridor has not really been tapped to its full potential, and yet it is the main artery that serves a lake area that is teeming with visitors in the summer and residents year-round. It is currently a random collection of dwellings, businesses, RV parks and farmland. It’s also an area that is seeing more development with each new year. As such, it is an area in need of an overall vision for development and growth.

With that in mind, corridor planning is under way, with county officials seeking input from the public about his this area should grow in the future. While infrastructure issues are a pressing concern - as it always is in any area of development - the need to have a plan to facilitate growth in this area to the satisfaction of most everyone is essential.

An overlay plan would be a step forward. The recommendations from a planning committee working with it should be interesting and offer some insight into where this vital piece of the county is headed next.

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