The legislative session is starting to feel a lot like the snow and this winter – a little deep and long. Fortunately, the end of both, are not that far off!
Important bills in the House this past week:
HJR1003 – is a resolution to let the voters decide if we should create a trust fund for the money in the unclaimed property account. The background is that South Dakota’s business friendly climate has attracted large national banks to make South Dakota their home location. The “unclaimed property” we are able to use is mostly bank accounts that have been forgotten by their owners. After a couple years of a bank being unable to find the owners, the money is released to the state. We have been using about $50 million of this money every year. The risk is that the money we use is always subject to having to be repaid to its rightful owner; therefore we have an increasing unfunded liability – especially if a bank would decide to move their corporate home to another state. If a bank did move, we would still have the liability, but would no longer have any revenue to offset it. I agree we should make this change.
HB1118 – would remove excise tax from “phantom dollars” on a vehicle purchase. Here is the background. Right now when you buy a new vehicle, you are charged excise tax on the manufacturers suggested retail price. That means for the amount of any discount or rebate, we are paying tax on dollars that never changed hands. This was a tough vote because the excise tax collected is used for roads and bridges, and all of us know we need good roads. I voted for this bill on the principle that taxes should be fair and honest – even when the need for the money is real.
HB1139 – would have removed a planned cap on property taxes for school capital outlay use. The current law was part of a package of changes from Governor Daugaard’s “blue ribbon task force” that gave schools a needed funding boost for teacher pay. I voted against this measure because of the likely property tax increase that would have resulted. Schools can make use of an “opt out” to increase taxes and raise money, if voters in their district agree one is needed. Opt outs are a great example of “local control”.
One night this week, my wife mentioned that our mailbox had been damaged by a snowplow. When I got home, I could see it in the headlights, hanging by one bolt. I added mailbox repair to my weekend to-do list, but when I went out to inspect it the next morning, I found someone had already fixed it. Thank you to whomever it was! What a blessing to know that “Good Samaritans” are still out there!
In service to God and you,
John Mills, Representative, District 4 firstname.lastname@example.org OR John.Mills@sdlegislature.gov