Monthly Archives: February 2012

Governor issues first veto

House Bill 1116 drew the first veto of the 2012 session from Gov. Dennis Daugaard. The bill’s prime sponsor was Rep. Dennis Feickert, D-Aberdeen. It seeks to exempt bedding for cattle and other livestock from sales tax. Bedding is defined in the bill as straw, corn stover and bean straw. Overriding a veto requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber: 47 in the House of Representatives and 24 in the Senate. The legislation passed 52-11 in the House and 24-8 in the Senate. The Revenue Department fought hard against the bill’s passage. The veto was delivered to the House chamber as the House members debated the governor’s teaching-reform legislation.

Governor’s teaching bill passes final test by slimmest margin

Moments ago the state House of Representatives voted to approve House Bill 1234, the teaching-reform legislation that started from Gov. Dennis Daugaard. The tally was  36-33 after more than 70 minutes of debate. The bill has many changes from the original version, but the basic concepts remain: teacher evaluation, extra pay for top teachers, extra pay for math and science teachers, and eliminating the requirement that teachers get continuing-contract protections. There’s also a scholarship program for students to become teachers in critical-needs subjects. The bill doesn’t contain any of the $15 million of funding necessary, however. And the big question is whether Democrats and/or educators will conduct a petition drive that would force the measure to a statewide vote on the November election ballot. The bill needed 36 “yes” votes to achieve final passage. Daugaard went to the rear of the House chamber to shake hands and exchange good wishes with supporters of the bill after the vote.

Is this true? Elevator failure at Capitol? UPDATE

Rep. Steve Street with a straight face just informed folks in the House lobby that one of the younger lobbyists, Justin Smith of Sioux Falls, is stuck in one of the Capitol’s elevators and reportedly called for help. Dick Gregerson, another lobbyist from the same firm, went to help. We’ll go check this out.

UPDATE: He’s free, not a hair out of place and looking dapper as always, after the doors were opened with a special tool by a member of the buildings and ground staff. The elevator stuck about three feet from the normal stopping place in the Capitol’s basement floor.

The cat’s out of the bag on HB !@#$

HB !@#$ is what you get when you leave the all-caps on as you type 1234. House Bill 1234 is the governor’s teaching-reforms legislation. Here’s how blogger Steve Sibson describes the measure over at his site today: “This is the globalists plan to centrally control the economy with education as simply a training ground for corporate socialism.”

Two of the finer sets of speeches of ’12 session

… came from the debate between Sen. Phyllis Heineman, R-Sioux Falls, and Sen. Jim Bradford, D-Pine Ridge, over her Teach for America funding legislation, Senate Bill 139, on Feb. 14, and from Rep. Larry Lucas, D-Mission, in his impromptu response to the snarky comment from Rep. Jim Bolin, R-Canton, on a pro-Main Street business resolution from Lucas on Feb. 10. Heineman and Bradford cited statistics and real-life stories that were truly compelling and truly mind-opening on both sides of the Teach for America question. Lucas didn’t have to respond to Bolin, but he did, and if it had been me making the factual but clearly off-topic comment that prompted the Lucas response, I’d certainly think at least thrice before tangling with Rep. Lucas the next time.

Nesselhuf proclaims victory

South Dakota Democratic Party chairman Ben Nesselhuf was ready and waiting to issue a statement tonight declaring victory. Legislators dropped an attempt to repeal the 2011 law that Nesselhuf referred to a statewide vote this November. The 2011 law, which is on hold until the vote, would divert 22 percent of contractor excise tax revenue into a program that would reward large projects with state grants, as a roundabout way to provide tax refunds.

Senators lock themselves in chamber

Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford, just resorted to the unusual maneuver known as a call of the house. The doors of the Senate chamber have been locked, so that none of the 34 senators who are present this afternoon can leave — and, so that the members of the House of Representatives can’t enter. This is unofficially known as Gloating Day at the Legislature: the House won the annual Kids Voting fundraiser basketball game over the Senate last night. The members of the winning chamber traditionally parade through the losing chamber, brandishing the traveling trophy and making smart-aleck remarks. Senators are hoping to confuse the House members by bolting shut the doors. They call it the Ostrich Defense.

Tax policy turnaround? Update 1.0

In the 2011 legislative session, the state Revenue Department tore apart Rep. Roger Solum’s attempt to help rural electric cooperatives, regarding the receipts they collect from members to pay for environmental compliance on greenhouse gases and global climate change. The measure, House Bill 1147, would have given a tax exemption on those costs. It rolled through the House of Representatives on a 66-2 vote but was tubed 9-0 by the Senate committee on state affairs. A year later, the rural electric sector has successfully convinced the Legislature to switch off the gross receipts tax for co-ops and tax instead on kilowatt-hours delivered. By eliminating price from the tax equation, the co-ops effectively achieved the same (or better?) result. Now there is hoghoused legislation this session, via Senate Bill 170, that among many things would give wind projects a full rebate on their sales and use taxes and their contractor excise taxes, and would give electric utilities the same full rebate of sales/use taxes and contractor excise taxes on environmental upgrades at existing production facilities. That measure also would repeal the 2011 law creating the grants program for large development projects, thus eliminating the need for a statewide vote this November on the Democrats’ referendum of that law. What the measure would do instead is re-create the same grant program but would divert 18 percent, rather than 22 percent, of the contractor excise tax revenues paid by all South Dakotans (other than those that get exemptions), in order to pay for the grants. There’s a House vote scheduled for possibly later today.

Update 1.0 — And, there’s a Senate vote scheduled for possibly later today on House Bill 1228, which also has been hoghoused to provide for the tax rebates on wind projects and environmental upgrades. That language was inserted Monday morning by the Senate committee on state affairs.

Appropriations amendments coming out tonight

Sen. Corey Brown, chairman for the Senate committee on appropriations, just announced that all of the potential amendments to the 2013 general appropriations bill have been filed with the Legislative Research Council. He said the packet will be posted on the LRC web site at 6 p.m. CT, or thereabouts. That’s on the Internet (no www. necessary). Appropriations isn’t meeting Tuesday, perhaps for good reason: Tonight is the annual House-Senate basketball game that benefits Kids Voting in South Dakota. The game is at the Riggs high school gym. The winning team usually is the one paying the most cash to bribe the referees. Seriously! As for appropriations work, chairman Brown said tonight it’s possible the consideration of amendments will start in the latter half of Wednesday but possibly not until Thursday. He said other legislation has to clear its way through the process first. The timetable calls for the final budget bill to be considered by the full Senate and House of Representatives on Friday.