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Legislative Session Wrap-up

Mar 22, 2019 by AFP
We have good news and bad news in this legislative update.  So, let’s start with the bad news.

Sales tax relief failure — As you’ve heard from us, clarifying and enforcing the sales tax reduction that is currently in law is one of our biggest priorities. When lawmakers raised the sales tax in 2016, they made a deal to lower it again once South Dakota was able to collect online taxes. While the House passed HB 1265, which would have provided sales tax relief to all South Dakotans, the Senate and governor’s administration refused to support this automatic reduction.

This was a terrible missed opportunity for citizens and their representatives. We consistently heard from lawmakers and the governor that they’ll fulfill the deal of lowering the sales tax rate. We’ll continue to hold them to that.

Canceled tax hikes — Don’t despair, though. We’ve had some good news on the tax issue. We helped defeat two bills — SB 65 and SB 106 — that would allow counties to implement more sales taxes. SB 65, for example, would have set the framework for a sales tax for the purpose of building more jails and courthouses. It was voted down on the Senate floor!

Campus Free Speech — Some of the best news coming out of this legislative session was the passage of HB 1087, which protects free expression and free association on our public university campuses. This bill took a long and winding path to the Governor’s desk and we were proud to play a prominent role in urging lawmakers to make this important policy a reality.

Educational opportunity — South Dakota’s tax credit scholarship program saw incremental improvements through the passage of SB 96, which expands the Partners in Education tax credit to apply to 100 percent of the contribution to the scholarship granting organization. We applaud this step and remain committed to increasing access to educational freedom in the state, so more children can obtain an education customized to meet their needs.

Criminal justice reform — Presumptive probation has been a smart policy for South Dakota. It gives non-violent, low-level offenders probation, rather than an automatic prison sentence. It curbs prison population growth, prioritizes resources, reduces recidivism, keeps our communities safer and promotes second chances.

We worked with the ACLU to oppose SB 19, which would have repealed presumptive probation. We were successful in defeating the bill on the Senate floor, so, for now, this important policy is here to stay.

What’s next on the agenda? Be on the lookout for upcoming events! We’ll be discussing these important issues and more.
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For Freedom,

Don Haggar
South Dakota State Director
Americans for Prosperity