Legislative Week 7

Crossover week went very well and I attribute the success to the chairs and members of all the committees. Every year the stress leading up to crossover can become overwhelming. This year the stress was minimized by the ability to conduct the committee process efficiently.

On Friday Rep. Dan Kaiser and myself jointly moved to establish a Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion to investigate the conduct of Rep. Johnson. Rep. Lesmeister seconded the motion.
We’re all passionate about our issues and we work hard to represent those passions on bills during the debate. The incident I’m referring to “Did NOT” happen during the debate on the floor as Rep. Johnson refers to in his apology to the body on Friday. This incident happened well after session had concluded.
This wasn’t a debate; this was behavior that cannot be tolerated. I stand by my decision, this incident warrants a full investigation. 45 of my fellow legislators agreed. 13 legislators resisted the motion.
It now will be up to the select committee to decide the appropriate coarse of action. Following is the link to the motion:
http://sdlegislature.gov/Legislative_Session/Committees/Default.aspx?Committee=396&Session=2018&tab=Minutes&document=2232018130PM
I need to give everyone a review of the bills I sponsored this session. Following are two I’ll concentrate on for this column.

I’ll start with HB 1172 an act revise certain provisions regarding meetings of certain public bodies. This will ensure time will be set aside for public comment. The amount of time will be at the discretion of the chair. It’s important in a democracy that citizens are able to bring their concerns before their elected officials. State Affairs committee heard this bill and passed with only one nay vote. It moved to the floor and passed with only eight nay votes. HB 1172 will now move to the Senate for their consideration.

HB 1221 expands the partners in education tax credit program to include tribally controlled schools on a federally recognized Indian reservation. In 2016 SB 159 created the partners in education tax credit program allowing insurance companies tax incentive for tuition fees to private schools. HB 1221 will allow this incentive for private schools on our reservations. It passed House Education committee unanimously and the full house with only five nay votes. It will now be heard on the Senate side.

As always, you can contact me at the House Chamber number 773-3851. Leave a phone number and I’ll call you back. The fax number is 773-6806. If you send a fax, address it to Rep. Elizabeth May. You can also email me at Elizabeth.May@sdlegislature.gov during session. You can keep track of bills and committee meetings at this link: http://legis.state.sd.us/ You can also use this link to find the legislators, see what committees they are on, read all the bills and track the status of each bill, listen to committee hearings, and contact legislators.

Legislative Week 6

Legislative Week 6

Someone asked me, “How’s everything going this session?” My response, “I feel like I’m in a blender!” We’re all running from room to room testifying on bills that someone’s bringing or the ones we’re sponsoring. I have to say, “It’s refreshing to have Rep. Livermont on my team.” He’s done an excellent job informing me on bills that are coming in front of the Ag. Committee. Steve’s help answering the overwhelming amount of calls and emails from constituents concerning specific pending legislation has made the process run more smoothly.

I currently serve on the House Commerce/Energy Committee. This year we have twenty-one different bills related to alcohol.

Last year the legislature enacted a law that created a new license allowing off-sale liquor licensees to deliver alcohol purchases. The law stipulates that the deliveries can only be made to locations within the boundaries of the municipality that issued the license, the customer must place the order in person and show proof of age, the person receiving the order must show proof of age, and the minimum order is $150.00 of alcohol. HB 1125 would have amended that statute to provide that the $150.00 minimum purchase could be made up of a combination of alcohol and other items. So, for example, if the off-sale liquor licensee sells items such as ice, pop, water, corkscrews, snacks, paper products or other non-alcohol items, the order for those items could have made up part of the $150 minimum purchase. I believed this was a reasonable change to the law. The bill passed the committee by a vote of 8 to 5, but was rejected by the full House on a vote of 26 to 41.

I’ve had several calls regarding the “Tobacco Tax Increase, HB 1274. This bill would allow raising the tax on tobacco products by a dollar a pack. Currently, revenue generated from the tobacco tax is deposited as follows. The first $30 million goes to the general fund; the next $5 million goes to tobacco prevention and anything over $35 million goes to the general fund. HB 1274 would revise the allocation of dollars as follows. The first $5 million to tobacco prevention, the next $20 million would be allocated to postsecondary technical education for tuition lowering, scholarships, the next $10 million to nursing facility reimbursement fund and anything over $90 million would go to the State General fund. HB 1274 was heard in House State Affairs and defeated by a 9 to 4 vote.

As always, you can contact me at the House Chamber number 773-3851. Leave a phone number and I’ll call you back. The fax number is 773-6806. If you send a fax, address it to Rep. Elizabeth May. You can also email me at Elizabeth.May@sdlegislature.gov during session. You can keep track of bills and committee meetings at this link: http://legis.state.sd.us/ You can also use this link to find the legislators, see what committees they are on, read all the bills and track the status of each bill, listen to committee hearings, and contact legislators.

Legislative Week 5

The South Dakota Legislature concluded its 5th week of session on Thursday with one of the heaviest legislative loads that any of us have ever experienced. Currently there are over 500 bills, which is among the largest number of bills in over a decade.

I continue this week working on sales and use tax expenditures. My bill to address the expenditures will be heard in House Taxation on Tuesday morning. I continue to be concerned with the “Special Carve Outs on exemptions” when we’ve seen the largest tax increases to the citizen of South Dakota over the last 5 years

Two years ago we raised the state sales tax by a ½% increasing the revenue by $110 million for teacher pay. In 2015 we passed SB 1 to fund roads and bridges at an annual cost of $202 million to taxpayers. According to relatively conservative notions the growth of state government has grown by 35% in the last ten years.

Following is an update to Healthcare exemption for sales and use tax. I’ve accounted for Medicare spending because there wouldn’t be any sales and use tax from Medicare spending. The table shows the estimated net revenue from HB1309.
HB1309 Revenue / (Expenses) from Sales & Use Tax Exemptions
Health Services & Other Health Related Items (10-45-14,etc..) $ 282,664,992
Sales & Use Tax Exemption on Food $ (97,441,344)
Electricity on Irrigation Pumps (10-45-19.1, 10-46-17.2) $ 3,426,728
Advertising Services (10-45-12.1) $ 21,641,418
Membership fees to membership organizations (10-45-13.1) $ 8,033,805
Motion picture rentals for theaters (10-45-12.1) $ 622,034
Net Revenue from HB1309 $ 218,947,633

I’m unsure what the final language will look like, but at the very least a sunset clause on all exemptions need to be reviewed by the legislature before considering any new taxes.

This past week, Senator Killer, Rep. Livermont and myself were honored to have Kadoka and Bennett Co. Senior government classes visit the capital. Thank you to Mandi Smokov and Dave Ohrtman for engaging their students in the process.

As always, you can contact me at the House Chamber number 773-3851. Leave a phone number and I’ll call you back. The fax number is 773-6806. If you send a fax, address it to Rep. Elizabeth May. You can also email me at Elizabeth.May@sdlegislature.gov during session. You can keep track of bills and committee meetings at this link: http://legis.state.sd.us/ You can also use this link to find the legislators, see what committees they are on, read all the bills and track the status of each bill, listen to committee hearings, and contact legislators.

Legislative Week 4

The week was busy with deadline of bill drafting. Currently there are over 800 draft requests for bills, resolutions, and commemorations.

I’ve spent the better part of this session reviewing “Sales and Use Tax Exemptions” and “Annual Est. General Fund Revenue Loss” under statute. My main focus this week has been under the healthcare group exemptions.

Sanford Health is the largest, not-for-profit rural health system in the nation as confirmed by the Health Care Advisory Board, based on gross revenues, patient beds, and number of full time employees serving a significant patient volume outside of major metropolitan areas. Estimates for general fund revenue loss under all “Healthcare Group” is $139,539,330. This estimate hasn’t been recalculate since 2013 and under this category the estimates according to the growth could actually far exceed the calculation.

I believe the $139.5M is too low. Dept. of Revenue estimated the $139.5M as follows, “In order to reach the estimate, they looked at a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics which showed that an average of $3631 was spent per person on healthcare in 2013 (based on national average).  South Dakota’s population was about 854,000 at that time.  Taking the average expenditure times the population time the sales tax rate gave us the estimated $139.5 million.”

However, I believe using an outdated 2013 number produces an estimate far below actual. The new estimate can be based on US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data on healthcare costs for the state of South Dakota. In 2016, the US BEA figured $7B was spent in South Dakota on health care, taking that number times the sales tax rate produces a sales and use tax exemption of $280.3M

Some economic statistics for South Dakota from November 2016 through October 2017 (excluding agriculture) outlook had education and health services growing by 1.40%. It wasn’t the largest with government at 1.95% but it does show the growth of the industry.

It’s important to note “Healthcare Exemptions” are only one of many sales and use tax exemptions under South Dakota law. Another on that stuck out to me was, “Motion picture rentals to a commercially operated theater primarily engaged in the exhibition of motion pictures.” The estimated exemption is  $622,034 almost exactly what is needed to fund the Veterans Cemetery in eastern South Dakota. The grand total for all exemptions under South Dakota law,  $1,113,065,623.

As always, you can contact me at the House Chamber number 773-3851. Leave a phone number and I’ll call you back. The fax number is 773-6806. If you send a fax, address it to Rep. Elizabeth May. You can also email me at Elizabeth.May@sdlegislature.gov during session. You can keep track of bills and committee meetings at this link: http://legis.state.sd.us/ You can also use this link to find the legislators, see what committees they are on, read all the bills and track the status of each bill, listen to committee hearings, and contact legislators.