With the condensed calendar of this year’s session coming to an end, our week was packed full of days listening to legislation that originated in the Senate, whether at the committee level or on the floor of the House of Representatives. I have to be honest; I am glad our workdays concluded around 5:30pm as my concentration and stamina would have suffered if it were any longer.
Every bill that is brought and introduced by legislators gets nurturing, focus, and discernment by themselves, leadership, lobbyists, the administration, and others. All in the hopes that good and meaningful legislation makes its way to the finish line by getting passed in both houses of the legislature and signed by the Governor. Obviously, most fail as they don’t receive favor for many countless reasons but when they are challenged by a Governor’s veto, that is very disheartening for the bill’s sponsors and proponents. The Governor has every right to veto a bill as presented and it must be done within five days (not including weekends and holidays) of presentation. The Governor looks at legislation a bit differently than a legislator because of the responsibility of overseeing the executive branch that accomplishes the day-to-day business for the state and how the bill will fit with the State’s management philosophy and workings. Also, as the spokesperson for the State, promoting business and economic development is an ongoing mission and of utmost importance to us all.
This week the Governor vetoed HB 1109 and I am saddened by it. This legislation would allow Business Improvement Districts of Municipalities to increase the amount of occupancy tax/fees placed on hotel rooms that travelers pay on top of the room rental rate and sales tax. From the existing $2.00 per night rate to up to $4.00. Locally, our BID districts have used this public money to fund local promotional events (national fishing tournaments, Oahe Days, Special Olympics, etc) or contribute to remodeling projects to structures of public use (Hyde Stadium, EXPO Center, Outdoor Pool, etc.) all with the intention of promoting tourism and improving our communities. Seeing the meaningful use of these funds firsthand, I voted in favor of HB 1109 when it came before the House in early February and the members of the Senate voted the same way. I understand that the Governor disliked the bill because it raised taxes on travelers, however the continued community improvement funding opportunities did not get forwarded by this veto. Although the legislature could override the veto with a 2/3 vote in late March, I am not optimistic that will occur. What I am optimistic about is that this idea will resurface in the future with better collaboration by all stakeholders.
Thank you for the opportunity to be of service to District 24 and please do not hesitate to contact me.