SD Corn Growers Association Made an Impact in Pierre

The 2019 South Dakota Legislative Session has wrapped up, and we want to take a moment to reflect on the accomplishments.

It’s been an interesting year. South Dakota legislators filed 460 bills this year—100 fewer than last year, but still more than the 2017 and 2016 legislative sessions. There were no bills focusing on water this year.

The Legislature has increased available revenue by approximately $3.7 million for 2019 and $5.5 million for 2020. That’s good news for South Dakota farmers, because it means our state will have more dollars to spend and Governor Noem’s proposed budget will not have to be cut.

A bill that seemed to generate a lot of interest during session was HB 1191, which would have made it legal to cultivate industrial hemp in South Dakota. The bill passed both the House (65 to 2) and Senate (21 to 14), but Governor Noem vetoed it, stating that South Dakota is not ready for industrial hemp. But the legislature didn’t give up there as they tried to override the veto. A two-thirds majority vote was needed to override and the House was able to gather the votes as they delivered a 55 to 11 vote. However, the Senate fell short on overriding with a vote of 20 to 13. So, the hemp conversation will be left for another year.

The last piece of the budgetary puzzle fell into place with Governor Noem’s Second Century Initiative to fund more habitat programs. The bill went through several voting attempts and amendments before it finally passed with $1 million allocated to the habitat conservation fund.

Major Topic for SD Corn Growers Association was Taxes on Agricultural Land

SB 112 Would have provided for the assessment of certain agricultural lands to be determined as non-cropland. South Dakota Corn Growers Association (SDCGA) has been a key player in creating fair and predictable taxes for the state’s agriculture industry for a long time. The SDCGA opposed SB 112 because it is impossible to give someone a tax break without either:

A) Asking someone else to pay for it somehow (a shift), or

B) Cutting government revenue

When taxes are adjusted, it can have unintended consequences, which can be negative for those involved. A study done by South Dakota State University (SDSU) showed that SB 112 would have created an estimated property tax shift from $57 million to $67 million and would have devalued commercial property and other agricultural property across the state. This bill failed on the Senate floor with a 27 to 7 vote.

SB 4 Dealt with revising certain provisions regarding the classification of agricultural land for property tax purposes. SDSU conducted a study on the impact of changes to the methodology of rating soil for the purpose of assessing agricultural land. This bill would create a summer study to run sets of books in certain counties to see how the system would change the taxing structure. SDCGA testified as a proponent of the legislation but warned the committee about the actual use shift that would occur when the new valuations were applied. SB 4 has been delivered to the Governor for signature.

Other Bills for South Dakota Corn Growers

SB 147 Would have provided certain provisions regarding commercial pesticide applicators. Following an emotional hearing, this bill was killed because it didn’t fix the problems the proponents were trying to solve. Other problems with the bill involved key facts such as: South Dakota is very windy, runoff can occur if measures aren’t taken and changing weather conditions can cause pesticides not to be correctly absorbed by the soil. This bill was deferred to the 41st legislative day in the Senate Ag and Natural Resource Committee.

HB 1188 Would have revised provisions regarding fertilizer inspection fees. There was some conversation that was started in Pierre whether all fertilizer should be taxed the same or should we tax based on nutrient value. The fertilizer tax goes into a fund that helps pay for ag-related projects, studies and research within the industry. There was some uncertainty that projects depending on this fund would not be able to move forward if the fee structure was changed. This bill was deferred to the 41st day in the Senate Taxation Committee.

HB 1160 Would have revised certain provisions regarding emergency management. It identified a variety of disasters caused by natural or other causes and provides for the relief of distressed humans and livestock where those conditions prevail. Relief efforts would include firefighting services, police services, medical and health services, hazardous materials, search and rescue, engineering, evacuation of people or livestock and more. This bill was tabled by the State Affairs Committee.

SB 189/SB 190 The Governor’s Pipeline Package was introduced on March 4, heard in Joint Appropriations on March 6, and passed by both chambers on March 7. The legislation created the Pipeline Engagement Activity Coordination Expenses (PEACE) fund for the coordination of law enforcement expenditures and was supported by strong majorities in both bodies. The bill allowed for the Governor to be able to declare an emergency in such a situation and included a transparent process for fees and other funds to be collected through a variety of sources to pay for the costs associated with the pipeline construction incurred by the state and counties. It also created a second fund and legal remedies to pursue out-of-state money funding any riots aiming to shut down the pipeline. Governor Noem introduced this bill in anticipation of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline potentially crossing nine South Dakota counties and affecting many other counties in our state. Both bills have been signed by the Governor.

SB 63 This bill increased the penalty for a second conviction in a 10-year period for those who trespass to hunt, fish or trap. According to testimony, over the last decade, this bill would have penalized 68 people. Here’s a snapshot of other proponents of this bill, in addition to SDCGA:

  • Department of Game, Fish & Parks
  • South Dakota Landowners & Outfitter Alliance
  • South Dakota Wildlife Federation Camo Coalition
  • Sierra Club, Pierre
  • South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association
  • South Dakota Stockgrowers Association

SB 63 was delivered and signed by the Governor.

SB 68 The highly-media-covered topic of “fake” meat is clarified in this bill, which was proposed by the South Dakota Stockgrowers. The bill states that meat is from a carcass, and it passed. The bill has been delivered to the Governor for signature.

As always, SD Corn Growers Association fought for the interests of our state’s corn farmers and the ethanol industry in Pierre.

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