Representative David Lust (R-34/Rapid City) and Senator Al Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen) were mad enough about the ag income tax (see SDCL 10-6-33.28 through 10-6-33.31) passed by last year's legislature that they tried to get it repealed. That repeal, HB 1294, died in the House Taxation committee yesterday. An 11-4 vote deferred the bill to the purgatorial 41st day of the session, leaving South Dakota on track to start assessing taxes on farmers and ranchers based on their potential productivity rather than the market value of their land.
This isn't quite an income tax (and why the Republican legislators who passed it last year couldn't just make a simple income tax instead of this convoluted egghead-heavy rigamarole continues to defy my logic). But it's close enough I remain surprised at the folks who've supported it. Those who think an income tax is the creeping zombie virus those vile Dems would unleash on the good people of South Dakota can try blaming my fellow Lake Herman socialist Rep. Gerry Lange (D-8/Madison) and Dem leader Bernie Hunhoff (18/Yankton) for their votes yesterday against the repeal. But just as responsible for keeping the ag income tax alive are good Republicans like Dan Lederman (16/Dakota Dunes), Brock Greenfield (6/Clark), and Kristi Noem (6/Castlewood).
One local legislator has staked his claim as an opponent of the ag income tax. One of PP's favorite politicians, Senator Russell Olson (R-8/Madison), dissented when Senate State Affairs killed SB 182, the Senate's version of the ag income tax repeal. The only other dissenting vote: another PP favorite, Democratic Senator Nancy Turbak Berry (5/Watertown).
The ag income tax does still face some legislative action. SB 3, which passed the Senate and awaits House action, would jigger some of the numbers but leave the basic assessment methodology intact. But come July 1, 2009, South Dakota will take a step toward slightly more rational and progressive taxation.
Now, when do the rest of us get to replace our property tax with income tax?
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