- Associated Press - Thursday, August 4, 2016

Aberdeen American News, Aberdeen, Aug. 4, 2016

Buffer strips would help protect state’s residents, bodies of water

There is a move afoot to assure added safety to South Dakota waterways.

Again.

And we are happy to see advocates of buffer strips between farmland and waterways living to fight another day.

Strips of land between fields and water help trap fertilizer, pesticide and sediment before they reach water.

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard rejected the plan to offer tax breaks for buffers in March. Vetoed Senate Bill 136 would have offered incentives in the form of tax breaks to landowners who plant grassy buffer strips along their fields.

Daugaard cited constitutional and property tax concerns about the bill, which overwhelmingly passed the Legislature.

Supporters of the bill plan to try again in 2017. Not totally surprisingly, Daugaard is looking join the fight for buffers.

Naturally, the governor wants to protect the state’s waterways like everyone else except for those who want to put their needs first. So, while he supports the concept, he has a different vision about how to go about it.

According to his staffers, Daugaard will offer a buffer strip proposal later this year to the Legislature’s Ag Land Assessment Task Force. Additional details were not given.

We have been fortunate in South Dakota that we have not been flooded with headlines about polluted waterways. So seeking improved water quality is a seemingly easy rally point for many.

“We’re firm believers that riparian buffers are one of the best things that we can possibly do to protect our rivers and streams and lakes” in South Dakota, said Jay Gilbertson, manager of the East Dakota Water Development District, which backed the 2016 legislation.

Roslyn native, farmer and new South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Mike Jaspers told the American News that water quality is one of his main concerns.

“There have been problems in other states where soil being washed away has contaminated water for towns, and farmers are being blamed for it,” Jaspers said. “We want to be more proactive about it now, so it’ll benefit agriculture in the long run.”

Legislators didn’t have the support to override Daugaard’s veto. The bill would have allowed farmland along a lake, river or stream that was turned into a 50-foot buffer strip of vegetation to be classified as non-cropland for property tax purposes. That would have meant a lower tax burden for those landowners.

Those against the bill had questions about its impact, such as which waterways would be subject to the policy. The governor also was concerned that the bill would shift the property tax burden to other landowners.

The South Dakota Corn Growers Association opposed the measure as messing with the tax structure without effectively inducing farmers to install buffer strips. The group instead wants to see more education efforts, so farmers can learn about available programs, Executive Director Lisa Richardson said.

“We are 110 percent behind buffer strips,” she said. “This bill did not address the issue. It’s not going to get more farmers to participate. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

So the support is there. Now it comes down to communication.

We hope that these groups get together, along with landowners, to come up with a solution. It is especially important to involve and get opinions from as many landowners as possible.

They are the people with boots on the ground. And they might have insights to make the solution brighter, better and more attractive.

It is an improvement worth pursuing.

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Watertown Public Opinion, Watertown, July 30, 2016

Massachusetts catches up with South Dakota

We are guessing not many of you noticed this news, but it did catch our attention.

Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker on July 26 signed into law a bill relating to electronic publishing of certain legal notices. The new law requires all legal notices must now appear, not only in Massachusetts state newspaper’s print publications, but also on the newspaper’s website as well on a statewide website that may be maintained as a repository for such notices.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jeffrey N. Roy commented ” . readership of newspapers is at all-time high because of the availability online (along with the print readership). This new law will capitalize on online readership and increase access to information, including public records, documents and hearing notices. It encourages civic engagement and it will revolutionize access to public notices .”

To that “news” . we say, “Welcome, Massachusetts, to the 21st century” . a place where South Dakota has been for more than a decade!

That’s right, the supposedly “high-tech” state of Massachusetts, home to Route 128 which is referred to as “America’s Technology Highway” is finally catching up to South Dakota.

Of course, the big difference is: In South Dakota the State Legislature did not have to mandate or get involved. Instead, South Dakota newspapers, through our statewide newspaper association, created a free (to read and to post legal notices) website called www.sdpublicnotices.com which aggregates all the legal notices published in South Dakota’s daily and weekly newspaper in one easy-to-use, searchable site.

And, again, at NO cost to the public.

This statewide site complements local newspaper websites, like the Public Opinion’s, where you can also gain access to the legal notices published here locally.

The reasons noted by the Massachusetts bill sponsor are as true today as it was when newspapers like the Public Opinion and our state association decided to add website access for legal notices for readers to use, including for research going back in time.

We chuckle often how, it seems, some government bureaucrats think creating their own website, which they can manage, and of course, change the course of history by going back and “re-doing” public notices after they have been published, can be done. And of course, they always announce it will “save the taxpayers” money.

Balderdash.

Doing it for free and maintaining the independent third-party verification provided by South Dakota’s newspapers is absolutely the best of all cases, for the public, the taxpayers, and if you think about it, for those public servants doing the work. When governments run and publish their own legal notices on their own websites, it’s like the proverbial fox guarding the hen house . it just doesn’t work over the long run for true independent, verifiable legal notice publishing. The opportunity for corruption is just too great (and our state has had enough of that topic for generations to come). And most of all, legal notices are found and read when they are printed in the state’s newspapers and on the websites run by newspapers. Readership of government-owned websites is minuscule and a great way to hide the government’s business from the people (by putting them on government run websites).

So, congratulations to the taxpayers of the state of Massachusetts. And to South Dakota taxpayers, feel good that your legislature and governor support publishing legal notices in the state’s newspapers and electronically on newspaper websites and the statewide www.sdpublicnotices.com website.

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The Daily Republic, Mitchell, Aug. 3, 2016

Officers needed positive response following uncertainty

Every day, we’re seeing and hearing great acts of kindness toward local law enforcement at a time it’s desperately needed.

We see it on social media almost daily. A local group - a church, a day care, a business - is doing something heartfelt toward law enforcement officers. Stories have been told of kids bringing candy and cookies to the Mitchell Police Division. Nurses have cooked meals for officers. And, most importantly, people are telling police “thank you” now more than ever.

It sounds as if the acts are happening all over the country, too.

It’s a great response to a very uncertain and difficult time to be a police officer.

Within days of each other in July, officers in different areas of the country were engaged in situations in which they used their duty weapon to result in a fatality of a citizen.

Thirty-two-year-old Philando Castile was shot by a suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, officer on July 6. Reports say Castile told the officer he was licensed to carry a weapon and was reaching for something when the officer shot Castile multiple times. Afterward, Castile’s girlfriend streamed the scene live on Facebook.

That same day, 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot and killed by a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, officer, when witness video shows two officers had Sterling on the ground at the time of the shooting.

Then, in the following weeks, officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge were shot and killed by gunmen who were targeting law enforcement personnel. Aside from those horrible acts, officers were forced to deal with protests and riots.

The job of a law enforcement officer has not been envious lately.

Though, the response by the country in many areas - including Mitchell and the surrounding region - has been phenomenal.

And while this may be reactive following a difficult time, we hope people continue to realize the importance of our officers and commend them for all their work.

Remember, these men and women leave their families every day to protect others. They absolutely deserve, at the very least, a thank you.

So we say cheers to all those folks who have taken time out of their day to do something great for our local public safety officials. We’re certain those acts of kindness really mean a lot to our officers.

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