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  • Mike Weisgram

Legislative Update 5 (Week 4)

I am still thinking about the debate on House Bill 1085 last week. The bill proposes to redefine the criteria for classifying land as “agricultural” for tax purposes (mostly regarding small acreages and the revenue derived from agricultural efforts). The topic of property taxes, as you can expect, prompted a spirited debate as all property owners have a common interest in fairness. And, if there was ever a controversial topic, it is “fairness.”

Who defines “fairness” has been a controversial issue since I was a child growing up with my three sisters and one brother. As children, we pled our cases of just treatment to our mom and dad. And, no matter how well we explained our thoughts and ideas, at least a few of us walked away feeling like something wasn’t completely fair.

Because the bill failed by only one vote on the House floor, the bill’s sponsor was able to call for a “Motion to Reconsider.” The following day the bill was reconsidered. Because it was altered slightly by an amendment, it became more acceptable to the majority, and the bill passed. I learned that the “Motion to Reconsider” can be a very useful tool, although it helped that the sponsor of the bill is very respected and well intentioned. This situation proved to be yet another example that more communication and some compromise tend to make things better. A reoccurring theme in life.

Another bill I voted for this week that fell into the category of “fairness” was House Bill 1053. It had personal relevance, too. A little back story. When my wife Judy and I leased a Chevy Volt in 2012, we enjoyed not putting gas in the car very often. Actually, hardly ever. The car was a plug-in electric car with a gas engine for extending the range of the vehicle. While I enjoyed the benefits of not spending much money on gas, I also felt guilty when I became aware that we were not contributing to the maintenance of our roads because the highway maintenance fund is supported by a tax on gasoline. Fast forward to now, I supported House Bill 1053 because it puts an additional tax (at registration) on pure electric vehicles (not hybrids).

As our auto manufacturers expand the manufacture of electric cars and trucks, we need a tax source for the owners of these vehicles to contribute toward roads. I think this bill addresses fairness and closes a loophole, making me able to live with this new tax.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the SD House of Representative. Please feel free to call or email me with your thoughts.

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