Rapid City mayor pushes for water and well-being in Pierre

PIERRE, S.D.– Water and well-being were two key topics of interest for Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender this week, testifying in support of two bills.

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National Guard Troops and military Humvees on patrol at the State Capitol in Pierre on Sunday (photo credit: Lifewrx Media LLC)

The first calls funding a plan to bring Missouri River water West River. And with areas like Pennington County preparing for massive growth, the need for water will only increase.

“We do have evidence that we’re taking from aquifers faster than the aquifers can be recharged,” Mayor Allender said. “And so our supply of water in the long-term is finite. It’s not guaranteed. Meanwhile we’ve got this massive river just 150 miles away.”

Allender also spoke out in favor of a bill to expand Medicaid eligibility to low-income residents, but that was defeated.

By expanding eligibility, the mayor argued the state would be able to benefit from federal incentives. In turn, they would help reimburse medical facilities for services, especially in rural communities.

“That service is just gone. So then that concentrates the medical provision in our communities in certain areas like Rapid City, and it puts an extra strain on those systems,” he explained. “So we want to keep these hospitals open, at all possible. And that can happen through better reimbursement that expanded Medicaid will allow.

While lawmakers voted down the Medicaid eligibility, it will be put to voters as a constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

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