SD House approves tourism taxMeasure would stave off expiration, add indefinite extension.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — South Dakota’s tourism tax would be extended indefinitely at 1.5 percent under a plan that received widespread approval Friday in the state House of Representatives.
The vote was 64-4. Several past opponents such as Rep. Don Kopp, R-Rapid City, and Rep. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, announced during the debate they were switching to supporters.
The tax will revert to 1 percent after June 30 unless the Legislature takes action. The extra half-cent was passed for two years in 2009 and renewed for two more years in 2011.
Kopp explained his change of mind. “This has been a great experiment,” he said.
Their statements brought rounds of applause from the gallery, where dozens of people from tourism businesses watched the action.
Rep. David Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, said he normally wouldn’t speak on legislation that was already a train racing in the right direction. But he wanted to talk about his different perspectives as a leader of the local convention and visitors bureau, a liaison to the local hotel alliance and as part of the family’s go-cart business.
“I’ve seen the benefit from all those different angles,” Novstrup said.
The half-cent raises approximately $3.3 million, with $2.1 million used for tourism promotion while the rest helps support the state arts office and council, the archaeology office and the Cultural Heritage Center.
The tourism portion is available for local organizations and businesses to match on a dollar for dollar basis to promote their events and attractions.
Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, spoke against the measure, HB 1066. He said it’s a tax increase because it extends a tax that was supposed to expire.
The measure now heads to the Senate.