Governor Kristi Noem convened a special session of the South Dakota Legislature on October 5 in Pierre. The governor had issued a proclamation in September to call the special session to obtain recommendations from the legislators on how to use the over $1 billion allocated to South Dakota in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF).
John Mills, who represents South Dakota’s fourth state house district, attended the special session. He submitted this letter:
October 6, 2020
On Monday, October 5, the legislature met in a special session. It is only the 28th time in our state’s history that it has happened, but it was my third time (in four years of service) to participate in one. This session had two purposes. The first was to amend the current budget. We needed to account for the influx of unexpected federal dollars related to the Covid-19 pandemic (nearly 1.4 billion), and officially add them into the budget.
The second item was a resolution to give guidance to the governor as she looks for ways to use the money that has not already been obligated ($597 million). The resolution, which you can find online at sdlegislature.gov, has several sections related to different segments of our economy. Here are some highlights: The largest part, $400 million, is earmarked for a small business COVID interruption grant program. Under that program, grants will be available to any business that can show a 25 percent reduction in business. Grants for as little as $750, up to a maximum of $100,000, are possible.
The legislature wanted the very smallest of businesses to be eligible and to limit the size of the maximum grant, in order to help as many businesses as possible. A relatively simple cash flow from operations calculation, (less any federal dollars already received) will determine eligibility and the size of the potential grant. Once all grant requests are in, the money will be prorated to those who applied.
The resolution calls for grant applications to be submitted between October 12 and 23. Another $40 million was designated for small non-profit . . .grants. It has the same parameters as the small business grant program. An additional $10 million was allocated for small business start-up grants, which are specifically for businesses that began operations between September 2019 and June 2020. To be eligible, these start-up businesses have to demonstrate the financial impacts using a different formula.
The grant application window is also October 12-23. Separate grant amounts in the resolution: $115 million for community based health care providers; $15 million for acute care hospitals; $2 million for adult education . . .; $5 million for destination marketing organizations; and $10 million for housing assistance. The Legislature did not set the parameters for these, believing the framework exists for the governor to act. I encourage all citizens and businesses to watch sdlegislature.gov or bfm.gov for updates and applications.
In service to God and you,
John Mills, Representative, District 4