PIERRE—House Speaker Dean Wink handed over his gavel as presiding officer Thursday afternoon and stepped down to his desk to directly make the case for ending South Dakota's membership in the Midwestern Regional Higher Education Compact. The state House of Representatives agreed with Wink, voting 49-15 with six members excused. HB 1001 now moves to a Senate committee for its second hearing.
PIERRE—A state legislative panel rejected a request from South Dakota counties for a sales tax Wednesday. The House State Affairs Committee voted 10-2 to kill the measure. HB 1006 was proposed by the Legislature's interim committee on county government finances. Rep. Elizabeth May, R-Kyle, had predicted on Tuesday the bill's defeat. "Everybody wants the county revenue issues addressed," May said at the start of her committee testimony Wednesday.
PIERRE—South Dakota's laws regarding bank taxes would move into the 21st century under two measures that advanced Wednesday in the Legislature. A state Senate committee made some substantial changes to one of the bills and unanimously endorsed both of them. The full Senate could consider SB 52 as early as this afternoon. It would carve an exemption to the three-year statute of limitations on tax refunds and tax underpayments, so that South Dakota fits within the federal audit framework for banks.
PIERRE—Manipulated manure should be subject to inspection fees and other state regulations in South Dakota, similar to commercial fertilizer and other soil amendments, the state House of Representatives decided Wednesday. House members voted 67-0 in favor. The measure, HB 1018, now heads to the Senate for consideration. Rep. Thomas Brunner, R-Nisland, carried the bill for the state Department of Agriculture. "In all my years up here, I dealt with a lot of manipulated manure," Brunner joked to the other House members. He is in his 10th year as a lawmaker.
PIERRE—A state Senate committee on Wednesday unanimously endorsed changing the alcohol-tax distribution to give counties, for the first time, a share from what state government has been receiving. Municipalities currently get $3.8 million from alcohol-tax revenue, while state government receives more than $11 million. Counties would get an estimated $3.8 million under the plan, while state government's share would be reduced by a similar amount. "This helps my counties. I have to support it at this time," said Sen. Troy Heinert, D-Mission.
PIERRE—The state Public Utilities Commission moved closer Tuesday to formally proposing rules regarding stray electrical voltage at dairy facilities in South Dakota. The Legislature established a remediation program last year for solving disagreements between electricity providers and dairy farms and put the commission in charge of writing the program rules by July 1. Stray voltage or current can hurt milk production by dairy cows.
PIERRE—The phonebook business is changing in South Dakota. The state Public Utilities Commission ruled Tuesday that telephone companies can switch to electronic directories for customers' numbers. But the companies must still provide traditional printed phonebooks if customers want them, the commission decided. The vote was 3-0. Dex Media publishes directories for Qwest/CenturyLink in South Dakota. The two sets of companies requested the commission's ruling.
PIERRE—People opposed to the governor's request to increase South Dakota's sales tax by one-half cent, which he would use for teacher pay and property-tax relief, raise a pair of fact-based points. They argue that school districts already have massive amounts of money in reserve. And school districts have significantly increased property taxes in recent years. Daugaard acknowledges both are true and wants to take action regarding both.
PIERRE—Gov. Dennis Daugaard assigned Lt. Gov. Matt Michels to look through state government's processes for ways to deter corruption in the future. That should be important. We've had one scandal after another come to light the past few years with EB-5, and the Gant-era mismanagement of the secretary of state's office, and the financial probe into GEAR UP that is under way.
PIERRE—Sales of hunting and fishing licenses to young people have been stagnant or declining in South Dakota during the past 10 years, a state official said Friday. Scott Simpson told state Game, Fish and Parks Commission members the concern is that too few youths are participating to take the places of older hunters and anglers. Simpson, the department's chief of administrative services, presented a license sales report covering 2005 through 2015 for residents and non-residents.