- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A South Dakota panel approved rule changes in multiple state departments Tuesday, including an official extension of a 65 mph zone on Interstate 90 between Rapid City and Ellsworth Air Force Base.

The legislative Rules Review Committee also reviewed policy for the South Dakota Investment Council and seven departments. Some of the changes cleared up repetitive or obsolete rules. Others, such as those with Game, Fish and Parks, support larger changes. Game, Fish and Parks rules will affect the state’s management of wildlife.

State agencies must now submit their rule changes to the secretary of state. They take effect 20 days after filing.

A rundown of the changes:

TRANSPORTATION

The Department of Transportation has amended a speed zone designation for Interstate 90. Bill Nevin, an attorney for the department, said the signs for the speed limit change are already in place, but the department needs to update the official rules. Nevin said the interchange is the busiest entrance to the Air Force base, just east of Rapid City.

GAME, FISH AND PARKS

Once the changes take effect, several state properties will no longer be designated “refuges.” Tony Leif, director of the Division of Wildlife, says refuges are not as important for wildlife management as once thought.

The department also altered rules governing big horn sheep hunting in the state. The changes limit the areas in which hunters can seek these animals. The state is working to expand the herd and counteract the effect of a disease that’s lowered the population count.

“It seems kind of precise,” Leif said about the boundary changes in the rules. “But when it comes to sheep management, it is precise.”

He said the sheep population needs a lot of “full curl” or large rams for reproduction.

The department will increase the possession limits for sand hill cranes and mourning doves in their hunting seasons. The parameters for elk hunting will change this season as well. The department is working on an elk management plan for the end of the year.

“What we want to do with this rule change is continue the growth of elk but slow that growth,” Leif said.

ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES

The panel also approved a new conflict of interest policy for the Board of Minerals and Environment. The board operates under the Environmental Protection Agency, which required the establishment of such a policy in the U.S. Clean Air Act.

One of the new rules requires a board member to withdraw from a hearing if closely related by blood or financial ties to someone involved. Another rule requires board members to disclose other relationships that could be considered a conflict.

Committee Chair Rep. Timothy Johns, R-Lead, approved this change and the others presented.

“I like the (new) rules as they’re written because they address direct conflict and the appearance of impropriety,” Johns said.

The board meets again June 3. It will consider changes to the Game, Fish and Parks rule on preference points, which hunters will be able to buy to improve their chances of being drawn for a hunting licenses in future years.


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