PIERRE — Will the Legislature cure the tax flaw the Big Stone electricity plant? In 2006, lawmakers granted the Big Stone plant a property-tax exemption on the additional environmental equipment needed to meet clean-air regulations, but the law didn’t account for the construction period. HB 1153 covers that gap. Prime sponsor is Rep. Jim Peterson, D-Revillo, while Sen. Tim Begalka, R-Clear Lake, has it in the Senate. The bill also ends the general tax break Jan. 1, 2024.
Is it true there could be organ-donor license plates? The legislation, HB 1162, comes from House Republican leader David Lust of Rapid City but has bipartisan support. Organ donor programs could submit designs to the state Division of Motor Vehicles. The special plates would be free at the time of registration of a vehicle or $10 if requested later.
Will teachers get a bonus if they don’t have many students needing remedial courses in college? Promoting that idea via HB 1166 is Rep. Lee Qualm, R-Platte. He wants $1 million set aside to spread among teachers in the 10 percent of school districts that have the lowest percentages of graduates requiring remedial coursework.
What’s the latest term-limits talk? Sen. Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, wants to put on the 2014 statewide ballot a constitutional amendment that would switch the Senate to four-year terms for terms that begin in a year that ends in a three or a seven, while keeping the current two-year term for terms that begin in a year that ends in one. He also would change the term limit for a senator to be no more than 10 consecutive years or three consecutive terms, whichever is longer. This is Senate Joint Resolution 1.
What about the House? Novstrup wouldn’t change the two-year terms in the House of Representatives, nor would he change the limit of four consecutive House terms.
Why is Sen. Corey Brown trying to make it harder for voters to pass a tax increase? The South Dakota Constitution already requires that tax increases and new taxes receive a two-thirds majority in each chamber of the Legislature for passage. Brown, R-Gettysburg, wants to put voters on the same level with legislators by requiring a two-thirds majority on ballot measures that would create or raise taxes.
What about extending taxes past their ending date? Brown’s proposed constitutional amendment would require a two-thirds majority, whether by legislators or voters, for those too. Currently it’s easier to increase or create a tax through a ballot measure because only a simple majority is needed. Brown’s proposal is Senate Joint Resolution 2. It also would require that any changes to that section of the constitution would need two-thirds, too.
Is drainage a big issue again this year? It soon might be, with the introduction of SB 179 by Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell. He hopes the Legislature will adopt a law creating a uniform application for drainage permits for counties to use.
What’s the next move for Sen. Larry Lucas on the social-host issue? Lucas, D-Mission, thought the Senate State Affairs Committee killed SB 94 for partisan reasons Wednesday. He said he plans to introduce a new version of the same bill so that senators have to consider the issue again. He’s trying to penalize adults who are hosts of gatherings where under-age drinking occurs.
So Blood Run won’t be the name of the proposed new state park? The governor wants the name of the development at the Blood Run historic site in Lincoln County, just south of Sioux Falls, to be called Good Earth State Park. The legislation, SB 186, was introduced Wednesday.