PIERRE — We're trying to follow a harsh new rule in our house this Christmas. No purchases over the internet, at least not if the company doesn't collect South Dakota sales taxes. This would seem to violate a rule of nature. No one in my circle goes looking for more taxes to pay. But it's not fair to South Dakota businesses that they're typically at a 4.5 percent disadvantage against internet competitors when state sales tax is added. The disadvantage worsens when municipal sales taxes are added.
PIERRE — The Anti-Corruption Act approved by a majority of South Dakota voters last month is constitutional and doesn't hamper the existing employment arrangements of legislators or their family members, according to the state attorney general's office. A group of more than 12 legislators and some spouses, led by Senate Republican leader Blake Curd of Sioux Falls, want state Circuit Judge Mark Barnett to stop parts or all of Initiated Measure 22 from taking effect.
PIERRE — Trustees for the South Dakota Retirement System endorsed possible changes Wednesday to help keep it solvent. The proposed changes also would close routes for employees can currently use to take unfair advantage and would add a punishment for employers found falsely reporting compensation. Next comes asking the Legislature for approval during the 2017 session that opens Jan. 10. SDRS executive director Rob Wylie said the key point is benefits will be adjusted any year the system wasn't fully funded.
PIERRE — Gov. Dennis Daugaard asked the Legislature for 1 percent increases in state funding for public schools, Medicaid service providers and state government employees as part of the next state budget Tuesday. The Republican governor said the lean recommendations reflect state tax revenues that haven't met expectations this year. He said revenues likely would finish $26 million below the estimate for the current fiscal budget year that runs through June 30, 2017.
PIERRE — The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission granted a 180-day delay Tuesday on a rate adjustment for South Dakota electricity customers of Northern States Power, which does business under the Xcel Energy name. The commission's staff wants the time to "take a closer look" at the company's proposed increase, PUC lawyer Kristen Edwards said. PUC Chairman Chris Nelson said amount is essentially 3 cents per kilowatt-hour. "I want to commend staff for keeping your radar screens up," Nelson said.
PIERRE — When it comes to occupations, State Sen. Phyllis Heineman is the only member of the South Dakota Legislature who lists "homemaker." Homemaker seems so retro, when modern times place so much emphasis on professional attainment and gender equality and political correctness. So call her rebel. Heineman, R-Sioux Falls, leaves the Legislature as this year ends. The former teacher's first piece of legislation was to appropriate $4 million for a school voucher program. That was back in 2000. It didn't pass.
PIERRE — State Attorney General Marty Jackley wants to quickly address whether crime and emergency records can remain open or must be closed under the Marsy's Law victim's rights amendment that voters added to the South Dakota constitution last month. Charles McGuigan, who is the attorney general's chief deputy, served as moderator of teleconference meeting Friday morning of lawyers, law enforcement officials and others involved in the criminal justice system.
PIERRE — Gov. Dennis Daugaard continued to temper expectations Friday about his budget recommendations. The headline on his weekly column: "Preparing For A Lean Year." Meanwhile state Revenue Secretary Andy Gerlach said at a meeting that state sales tax receipts saw real growth of less than 2 percent from one year ago. He said the sales-tax revenue was up 2.2 percent, but some of the growth resulted from the rate increase on June 1 from 4 percent to 4.5 percent.
PIERRE — State Circuit Judge Mark Barnett plans to hear arguments Thursday, Dec. 8, on whether South Dakota's new anti-corruption law should remain in effect. A group of 24 Republican legislators, three of their spouses and one lobbying organization want the judge to issue an injunction permanently blocking the law. The 1 p.m. hearing comes one month after a majority of South Dakota voters approved Initiated Measure 22 in the Nov. 8 statewide elections. Most of the law took effect Nov. 16.
PIERRE — Come Tuesday afternoon, the people of South Dakota will learn from their governor how dire the financial situation is facing their state government. The budget recommendations that Gov. Dennis Daugaard delivers to a joint assembly of the Legislature on Dec. 6 marks the second time he must take a difficult message to state lawmakers. This isn't the same level of crisis he faced in January 2011, when he took office as South Dakota and the nation struggling back from the Great Recession.