Week Two Recap
Last week, there were a few items as the legislature continued to gear up.
Wednesday, January 18, SB 26, an act to transfer a property tax relief program, to change income requirements for certain property tax relief programs, and to index certain income schedules to inflation, was heard in Senate Taxation and later in the week passed in the Senate. This bill was one of the products of the interim study on property tax. This bill raised the income guidelines for property tax relief, so hopefully, more people will be eligible to apply. Unfortunately, the income guidelines are still abysmally low and only available to residents who live in areas that opt in. Not the type of property tax relief I know for which many of our residents had hoped. This bill will be heard in the House Taxation Committee Tuesday, January 24.
Members of the South Dakota Department of Tourism visited the Capitol last week. In 2022, visitors spent a record-setting $4.7 billion in 2022, which generated 11% of sales tax collections. As a result, tourism eases the tax burden by $1,011 per household. During the Governor's Conference on Tourism, several award winners were featured. Among those honored were several from our area. The Governor's Tourism Rising Star Award went to Shelby Solano from Visit Rapid City. In addition, one of the four regional Ruth Ziolkowski Outstanding Hospitality and Customer Service Awards went to Ann Thompson from Affordable Adventures; the George S. Mickelson Award for exceeding customer expectations was received by the Shady Rest Motel, Custer, and the Ben Black Elk Award honored Julie Schmitz Jensen from Visit Rapid City posthumously. Governor Noem also unveiled the new campaign Travel South Dakota.
SB 1 to modify debilitating medical conditions for medical cannabis use was debated on the Senate floor. This bill allowed the legislature to list and change ailments for which medical marijuana can be prescribed vs. the Department of Health and added glaucoma and PTSD to the list of approved items. Should the list of prescribing authority rest with the Department of Health or the legislature? I felt it was more appropriate with the Department of Health; however, the bill passed the Senate 20 to 15 and will move onto the House.
President Rankin represented the South Dakota School of Mines at the Capitol, and I also had the opportunity to visit briefly with ABATE, 4H, and the SDSU football Division 1 National Champions.
Last week in Senate Transportation, we had a briefing from the South Dakota Department of Transportation. Serious injuries and fatalities on our roads were up in 2022, and the Department of Public Safety will brief the committee this week for strategic planning to address this (center rumble strips to prevent cross-over crashes, wider shoulders, and additional signage, to name a few). If you're interested in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program 2023-2026, you can find that here.
Meetings with constituents and organizations continued including but not limited to addressing inequities with dual enrollment program credits, title protection for veterinary technicians, school choice, the new social studies standards, protecting gun rights, issues with workers' compensation insurance, protecting the unborn, and concerns about the proposed new licensure law. I also attended the South Dakota Birth to Three State Interagency Coordinating Council meeting, and snuck in a little time to volunteer for the South Dakota Braille and Talking Book Library.
Leadership elections took place over the weekend for Pennington County Republicans. As a result, an entirely new leadership slate will coordinate within our area. If you are from Pennington County and interested in more information, you can click here.
I ended this week working on legislation, a pile of paperwork, audits, and tax needs for my business, and a little bit of family time at Burning Beetle. This week the legislature will become much busier as more bills are introduced. In our area, the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo will kick off on Friday, January 27, and the first Crackerbarrel in Rapid City will be Saturday, January 28, at Western Dakota Technical College. It's a great time to be a South Dakotan!