S.D. Legislature overturns one of three Governor’s vetoes on last day of session

By SAM Grosz SDNA CNS Reporter

The Senate overturned one of the three vetoes from Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the House quickly concurred on the last day of the 2015 S.D. Legislative session in Pierre

The bill which successfully passed March 30 was SB 136, which had testimony from Sen. Xx Brown, R-Gettysburg, and no comments to uphold the veto. The bill seeks to correct a decision made by the Department of Revenue to apply sales tax on an amount already taxed on rural electric cooperatives.

Cooperatives pay property tax on their buildings, but it is different, said Brown, when it is taxed on the amount of electricity used by the consumer, which fluctuates.

Daugaard, in his letter to the Senate, had commented that he did not accept the argument that the current taxation system imposes a double tax. Rural electric companies, he said, are in a similar situation to thousands of businesses throughout South Dakota.

Rep. Thomas Brunner, R-Nisland, had noted that electric cooperatives did not have a problem with the tax structure, just how it was imposed recently. It had been 20 years doing it the right way, he said, and now it has been done the wrong way.

The Senate passed the overturn by 31-1 with one person absent, and the House concurred by passing it 63-1, with six Representatives absent. The vote needed to be a two-thirds majority.

The bill now becomes law without the Governor’s signature.

Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, sought the same verdict for SB 159, which would have exempted coaches in American Legion and VFW baseball from paying sales and use tax. He said the tax had only been imposed the past two years by no change from the Legislature, but from a “bureaucratic action,” or decision by the Department of Revenue.

Emotional support was given by Sen. Bill Van Gerpen, R-Tyndall, and Sen. James Bradford, D-Pine Ridge, who pointed to the benefits of providing the recreation and the diminishing pool of volunteers to coach youngsters.

However, Senators failed to muster the two-thirds needed to overturn the Governor’s veto, with a vote of 21-11-3 excused.

The third bill, SB 100, would have gathered information about the number of rental units in the state and the occupancy rate. Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford, sought to overturn the Governor’s veto because the bill would identify housing problems in the state. She said availability of housing is directly related to economic development.

Supporters of the veto worried that the gathering of information was the first step to creating a tax break for rental property owners.

Sen. Bob Ewing, R-Spearfish, said “I look at this as a baby step to creating other tax classifications and possibly lowering taxes on apartment buildings, thus throwing the burden on other classifications.”

Senators sustained the Governor’s veto, with the 22-10-3 vote to overturn not receiving the two-thirds needed.

The S.D. Legislative session is over for the year. The Legislature’s executive board, summer studies and work groups will take care of business the rest of 2015.