The busiest week of the legislative session is behind us. The much debated Governor’s education bill barely passed the House, and we survived crossover day.
After two days of delaying tactics, a failed vote, and a vote to reconsider, the House passed the Governor’s education bill with no votes to spare. The bill increases the sales tax rate from 4% to 4.5% on all sales that are currently taxed. I voted for the bill, with reservations. The bill contains $40 million in property tax relief, but I do have concerns about the increased sales tax on farm machinery. There are others with the same concern. The bill will be heard on the Senate side next week, and lots of discussion is in the forecast.
Representative Paula Hawks and Senator Jason Frerichs were the main sponsors of a country of origin meat labeling bill that was heard in House Ag, one of my committees. The bill mandated meat retailers to add the country of origin to meat labels if that information was available. If the information was not available, the label would indicate that also. The SD Stockgrowers spoke in favor of the bill as did the SD Farmers’ Union, Dakota Rural Action, and a local rancher. Opponents included the SD Retailers, the Department of Ag, the SD Cattlemen’s Association, the SD Farm Bureau, the SD Pork Producers, and the SD Chamber of Commerce. The cost would have been minimal to retailers, but for some reason, it’s not important to many that we know where our food comes from. The bill failed in a 7 to 6 vote. I did write and presented a resolution to the House expressing support for COOL.
It was great to see the students and teachers from Timber Lake and Eagle Butte schools this week. Thank you for visiting and adding a positive note to our day.
I worked for many years to regulate kickboxing, boxing, and mixed martial arts in South Dakota, helping to make it a safe sport. I was a boxer and trained many young men, giving them an opportunity to expand their horizons. Many parents thanked me for keeping their boys out of trouble. Further support for this program was shown by the passage of SB 42, a bill that increased the fees for these events to keep them self-sustaining.
There are two weeks left in session—there will be a lot of down time interspersed with debating bills on the floor and talking with lobbyists. You can follow legislation at www.legis.sd.gov. Please feel free to call me at 605.365.7367 or email email@example.com.