South Dakota Legislative Update - Jan. 25, 2022

Environment
Small Towns

Today is Day 10 of South Dakota’s 38-day legislative session, which will conclude March 28.

All bills need to be introduced by Feb. 3 (Legislative Day 16) and must pass out of both houses by March 7 (Legislative Day 34).  

We welcome your input. Feel free to be in touch about these or any other bills you feel are important to rural communities. I can be reached at heidiku@cfra.org, or 605.240.0039.  

Below are the bills we are following: 

Energy and environment

Senate Bill (SB) 36 – Support: Brought at the request of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, the bill would require financial security for the decommissioning of solar facilities.

SB 36 adds the term “solar energy facilities” to an existing statute allowing the Public Utilities Commission to require financial security for wind turbine decommissioning. These financial securities are held by the Commission to ensure that the costs of decommissioning are covered by the project owner and not the landowners.

SB 36 was heard by the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee on Jan. 18. There was no opposition testimony. After being amended for technical language the bill passed 9-0. It was placed on the Senate consent calendar and passed on Jan. 20. It will be heard in the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Jan. 26 at 10 a.m.

House Bill (HB) 1081 – Support: This bill, introduced by Rep. Tim Goodwin, adds solar energy tax revenue to the calculation of local effort for state aid to school districts. HB 1081 inserts solar energy into the existing statute governing how wind tax revenue is apportioned to school districts, meaning both wind and solar tax revenue would be treated the same. South Dakota’s solar industry is expected to grow significantly in the near future, with the state’s first two utility-scale projects slated for completion in the next year. These projects are expected to increase the state’s solar capacity from 1.8 megawatts to more than 200 megawatts.

Referred to the House Taxation Committee. As of today, a hearing date has not been scheduled.

Senate Bill (SB) 80 – Support: This bill, introduced by Sen. Casey Crabtree, exempts the provision of electricity through electric vehicle charging stations from the definition of electric utility. Current law prohibits anyone from selling electricity unless they are a utility. SB 36 exempts electric vehicle charging stations from the definition of utility, allowing owners of electric vehicle charging stations to resell electricity as long as they have purchased it from a utility that is engaging in the retail sale of electricity within the utility's assigned service area. This will simplify the process of building out electric vehicle charging station infrastructure in the state.

SB 80 was heard on Jan. 20 by the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee and numerous proponents testified in favor of the bill, including the Public Utilities Commission. There was no opponent testimony. The bill was amended for clarification and passed 9-0. It was placed on the Senate consent calendar and passed on Jan. 24.

House Bill (HB) 1093 – Oppose: This bill, introduced by Rep. Mark Willadsen, would increase the annual fee for certain electric motor vehicles from $50 to $250. HB 1093 amends a law passed in 2021 that created an annual fee for electric motor vehicles. This electric vehicle fee offsets the lost funds that are normally generated through the gas tax, collected in the state’s highway maintenance fund, and used for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average American drives 13,500 miles per year. For a vehicle with a fuel economy of 25 mpg, that equates to purchasing 540 gallons of gasoline on average per year. The state gas tax is 28 cents/gallon, which means that a South Dakotan purchasing an average of 540 gallons of gas per year contributes $151.20 annually in gas taxes, which is $100 less than the proposed fee on electric vehicles.

HB 1093 will be heard by the House Commerce and Energy Committee on Jan. 26 at 10 a.m.

Economic and community development

Senate Bill (SB) 55 – Support: Brought at the request of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), SB 55 appropriates $50 million dollars in federal fund expenditure to be used for grants for the continued expansion of broadband infrastructure and to declare an emergency. In 2021, the State’s Chief Information Security Officer testified that 135,000 South Dakotans, or 1 in 6 South Dakotans, lack broadband access, making this program an important investment.

Referred to the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee. As of today, a hearing has not been scheduled.

Advocacy resources

Here are few resources to help empower you to advocate for the issues you care about: 

Remote testifying: Groups or individuals wanting to testify before a committee via remote means or submit a digital handout or written testimony may submit their request and/or materials by emailing the committee. Committee email addresses can be found here by clicking on the specific committee.

How to be a rural advocate
Engaging with the South Dakota Legislature

Upcoming legislative forums

Pierre Area Legislative Coffees, Jan. 29 and Feb. 12, hosted by the Pierre Area Chamber of Commerce

Districts 1, 2, 3, and 23 Legislative Cracker Barrels, Jan. 29, Feb. 12, and March 5, hosted by the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce

District 18 Cracker Barrels, Jan. 29, Feb. 12, and March 15, hosted by Yankton Thrive

Districts 30, 32, 33, 34 and 35 Legislative Cracker Barrels, Jan. 29, Feb. 12, Feb. 26, March 5, hosted by Elevate Rapid City

Districts 6, 11, and 15 Legislative Coffee, Feb. 5, hosted by the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce

Districts 9, 13, and 14 Legislative Coffee, Feb. 12, hosted by the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce

Districts 10, 12, and 25 Legislative Coffee, Feb. 26, hosted by the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce