Legislators weigh in on upcoming session

Nathan Steele

As South Dakota enters a new legislative session, the Chronicle heard from District 30 Representatives on their insights.
One topic of interest was Gov. Kristi Noem’s budget address given in December, which was met with varying attitudes.
“The governor’s address is her ‘wish list’ for the upcoming legislative session, and it’s always good to hear what her priorities, goals and objectives are before going into session,” said Rep. Trish Ladner.
Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller was unenthusiastic about the cost of the budget, saying, “I am not in favor of a budget that keeps growing like ours does.”
“I think when I first got in to office the budget was $4.3 billion. I couldn’t believe how much it was for our state and our small population. Last year it was $5.77 billion and now $6.24 billion. We don’t even have one million people in our state! How is that conservative leadership?” Frye-Mueller asked.
Rep. Dennis Krull supported adopting the governor’s proposed budget as the state budget, but added “We have a lot of work to do to get this accomplished.”
In the address, Noem proposed a repeal of the state sales tax on groceries.  Frye-Mueller is in support of the repeal.
“My concern is now that Medicaid expansion may be an excuse to keep it. I will vote to repeal  it though,” said Frye-Mueller.
Krull supported Noem’s proposal, saying “I am in favor of any repeal of taxes. What needs to be determined is what the long-range effect of this repeal is. South Dakota revenue from sales tax right now is very high, but will that trend keep going? And if it does not what are we going to do?”
Krull added grocery sales tax repeal and property tax should be a top priority for the legislature.
Ladner’s best case scenario would be that both the sales tax on groceries is repealed and property taxes reduced.
“In all my conversations with people, they have never told me that they are concerned about paying $1.04 for a candy bar, but they are extremely concerned about their property taxes,” Ladner said.
She says also that there are many “nuisances” relating to the repeal of sales tax on groceries to consider, such as which items would be taxable or not taxable. She said she is looking forward to more information being released.
Rising property taxes is a main concern for Ladner.
Ladner was the chair of the interim property tax summer study. A product of that committee was a draft bill that makes an exemption from certain property taxation for owner-occupied single-family dwellings. If passed the bill would exempt the first $100,000 of property value from being taxed.
“In other words, if you owned a home assessed at $99,000 you would not pay any property taxes. If you owned a home that is assessed at $200,000 you would pay taxes on the remaining $100,000 of value and so on,” Ladner  said. Ladner is also prime sponsor of the bill. Sen. Jack Kolbeck would be the prime sponsor in the senate.
As for proposed increases in the budget for education and state employees, Krull believes they are a good starting point, but said “The actual amount of increase will depend on a lot of factors, so to say what that amount is right now, in my opinion, can not be determined.”
Ladner supports the proposed increases for education and said “Before leaving for Pierre, I met with the superintendents in District 30 and will support the increases for education. I believe that we must invest in our children. They are our future!”
Property tax reductions, lithium mining in the Black Hills, and the West Dam project in Custer are some District 30-specific issues  Ladner recommends keeping an eye on. Frye-Mueller says she hopes the Custer State Park campground expansion will not come up again, but will watch out for it.
Frye-Mueller is bringing forward bills regarding elections, opioid notification to patients and vaccine mandates for school children.
Each representative wants to extend thanks for electing them to serve the citizens of the state and of District 30.
“It is a responsibility I take very seriously. Please reach out anytime with questions and/or concerns,” Ladner said.
Krull wants people to know that people can also reach him anytime at his email address,  dennis.krull@sdlegisla
ture.gov and promises to “do my research and look at both sides of every issue and do what is best for District 30 and the state of South Dakota.”

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