2021 Capitol-ism: January 22

Special Events


South Dakota Chamber Of Commerce - Capitol-ism E-Newsletter

January 22, 2021

A Look at Week Two


    • Pandemic Liability Limits - including today’s committee vote
    • Cutler-Gabriel Mil Levy Adjustment
    • Capitol Week Podcast Link
    • Updates on Virtual Business Day at the Legislature

HB 1046 – Pandemic Liability Limits.

Pandemic, Coronavirus, COVID-19  

95,221 total confirmed cases in South Dakota; 1,673 deaths in South Dakota; $332.5 million in Unemployment Insurance Federal and State payments since March.

This is a mess.

What could make all of this worse?  People filing liability lawsuits against businesses where they work – or have visited – accusing them of responsibility for their contracting COVID-19.

The South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and 38 other organizations are supporting HB 1046 which will put limits on those potential lawsuits.  How the heck does HB 1046 do that?  Here is one of the key sections of HB 1046:

“A person may not bring or maintain any action or claim for damages or relief alleging exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19 unless the exposure results in a COVID-19 diagnosis and the exposure is the result of intentional exposure with the intent to transmit COVID-19. In alleging intentional exposure with the intent to transmit COVID-19, a party shall state with particularity the circumstances constituting intentional exposure with the intent to transmit COVID-19 including all duty, breach, and intent elements and establish all elements by clear and convincing evidence”.

There are sections outlining specific protections for Health Care providers; makers and marketers and donors of Personal Protective Equipment and the owners of property identified as a premises.

Update:  The bill had its hearing in front of the House State Affairs Committee this morning.  There were several small amendments to address concerns expressed by the Trial Lawyers Association.  One of the amendments is a sunset of limit on litigation which will run from January of 2020 through December of 2022.

HB 1046 passed out of House State Affairs Committee this morning with a vote of 12 yes and 1 no.

Below is the list of groups supporting this bill:

·        Americans for Prosperity, South Dakota

·        Associated General Contractors of South Dakota, Highway Heavy Utilities Chapter

·        Associated School Boards of South Dakota

·        Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, South Dakota Synod

·        Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce

·        Large School Group

·        Lumen Technologies

·        School Administrators of South Dakota

·        South Dakota Bankers Association

·        South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry

·        South Dakota Chiropractors Association

·        South Dakota Dental Association

·        South Dakota Electric Utility Companies

·        South Dakota Farm Bureau

·        South Dakota Hotel and Lodging Association

·        South Dakota Manufactured Housing Association

·        South Dakota Municipal League

·        South Dakota Retailers Association

·        South Dakota Rural Electric Cooperative Association

·       South Dakota Telecommunications Association

·       Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield

SB 49School Levies/Annual “Cutler/Gabriel” Levy Adjustment

It is common a hope that your home will be worth more in the future than it is now.  Property is “reassessed” about every three years and it is exciting to see that home’s value increasing, that investment’s net worth growing . . . then the tax bill hits.  The increased value means more taxes. 

That stinks.

South Dakota uses several methods to keep the normal increase in home and other property values from increasing taxes and giving a windfall to local governments which includes cities, counties and school districts. 

With cities and counties, the revenue received from property taxes is limited so that the increase in the tax base reduces the tax “levy” or the actual tax that is charged.  With school taxes, the state actually pays about 63% of the money used for each district’s general fund.  The other 37% is local property taxes collected at a tax rate set by the legislature each year.

School general fund taxes are the only property taxes that have different rates for different classes of property.  For taxes being paid this year to the school district’s general fund, those tax rates or mil levies (aka dollars-per-thousand) are as follows:

> Commercial Property - $6.682 (dollars-per-thousand)

> Homes - $3.229

> Farms/Ranches - $1.443

HB 49 is this is the annual “Cutler/Gabriel” levy adjustment.  The levy numbers will change as the bill goes through the process but the first draft reduces these levies by 2.4%.  This does not mean your taxes will be lower in 2022, these tax rates will be applied to the increased value of your home or office.

Capitol-ism will track SB 49 and when it is final, will publish a special report.  This is exactly why they say the two things one should never actually witness being made are sausage and law.

Several Bills of Interest

HB 1053

Fee for electric cars – another attempt to get electric cars to pay for roads.  Everyone will get a charge out this one. (groan)

SB 74

Revise provisions regarding drones.  This change in law makes it clear that drone operators who have accidentally captured images of people on private property are not held as law breakers, if they are operating the drone for part of official duties or assisting emergency services.  Folks who are hovering a drone outside someone’s bedroom window will still be in all kinds of trouble.

SB 71

Make “Juneteenth Day” a working holiday.  June 19th is the day that enslaved people in Texas finally learned that they were indeed legally free.  This bill would make that day a working holiday while SB 89 would add this to the list of holidays in South Dakota.  The Board of Directors of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes this date is important to a minority population in the state and should be understood. 


Remote Testifying Encouraged

During the pandemic, people are being encouraged to provide testimony to committees via phone or video link using the Microsoft Teams platform.  There is benefit to avoiding that drive to Pierre and the return visit which is often done in the dark.  Cynics will claim the scenery is the same for both trips.

The Legislative Research Council has released instructions on testifying before committee remotely.  This method is being promoted to keep exposure to COVID-19 to a minimum.  Here are the opening paragraphs of the memo and the link to the entire set of instructions is below.

PIERRE – Groups and individuals wanting to provide testimony to legislative committees during the 2021 Legislative Session can now do so without making a trip to the Capitol in Pierre. As part of the South Dakota Legislature's COVID-19 protocols to keep the Session open, in addition to testifying in person, testifiers may appear electronically either by audio or video through the use of Microsoft Teams. People wishing to speak may also submit reference materials electronically for viewing by committee members.

Link to memo:

Here is a link to the individual committee emails for sending requests to testify:



Capitol Week with David Owen Podcast

In the debut episode of Capitol Week with David Owen, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry President David Owen discusses Governor. Kristi Noem’s Budget and State of the State addresses, the potential process for implementation of marijuana laws and legislation to limit liability for certain exposures to COVID-19 (HB 1046).

   YouTube link is: 

The next episode will bevposted Monday.

Virtual Business Day at the Legislature

Business Day is Wednesday, February 17, 2021.  Participants will view presentations and vote during Business Caucus from their own computer or tablet. 

We begin with a 1:30 to 2:30 PM (CT) Legislative Update by David Owen that incorporations our annual Business Caucus with Ryan Budmayr, Lawrence & Schiller, as moderator.

2:30 – 2:45 PM will feature Chamber messaging and sponsor recognition.

Beginning at 2:45 PM (CT) there will be a series of speakers addressing legislative and business-related issues from local, state and national perspectives.  We have invited Governor Kristi Noem, confirmed GOED Commissioner Steve Westra and US Chamber of Commerce Executive Director of Congressional and Public Affairs John Kirchner.  Special messages will be offered by South Dakota’s Congressional delegation. 

Registration for the afternoon is $50.  The first 200 registrations received by February 1st will receive a gift package to enjoy during the event. 

We gratefully thank the following list of sponsors that make this event possible.

> First PREMIER Bank

> Microsoft

> Black Hills Energy

> MDU Resources Group

> Midco

> NorthWestern Energy

> Sioux Valley Energy

> Xcel Energy

> Avera Health

> Bender Commercial Real Estate Services

> Lawrence & Schiller



Thank you for your support of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


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