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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Legislature: Roads, Farmers Markets, Pipeline Tax, and Corporate Democracy

Some legislative notes to sprinkle on your Wheaties:

The State Senate Transportation Committee has unanimously killed SB1, the road tax increases. What was that Senator Mike Vehle from Mitchell said in October?

Everyone in this committee.. has a feeling that we need to do something... We'd all like to do probably a lot more than we feel in a recession we can do. But we need to take a hard look and be ready to explain to our colleagues the need that our highways have.... [A]ny society that lets its infrastructure fail or start to fail is also going down a wrong road and putting our society in jeopardy [Senator Mike Vehle, 2009.10.14].

Senator Vehle yesterday abandoned the bill, deciding he didn't want to fight to convince his colleagues to pay for the roads that get them to Pierre and back. Oh well. Maybe we all can just stop driving and do all our business online.

If we can still get to the farmers markets over our new gravel roads, we might find more local sellers. Democrat Pam Merchant from Brookings is proposing House Bill 1222 to exempt farmers market vendors from licensing requirements. The bill does add some labeling requirements—basically a sticker to say this food's homegrown; if you have allergies, you take your chances. But essentially, HB 1222 is Democrats promoting deregulation for small local businesspeople. I bet the Republican-controlled Legislature kills this one. Please, Russ, prove me wrong!


Republicans and Democrats are working together to try again to get a pipeline tax. Senate Bill 161 imposes a two-cent-per-barrel tax on oil pumping through big pipelines (i.e., TransCanada's) in South Dakota. Two cents per barrel: at today's crude oil prices, that's a 0.027% tax—less than three cents on every hundred dollars TransCanada will make. And like previous measures, SB 161 caps the tax at $30 million and dedicates it to a fund to clean up oil spills and other messes TransCanada will make.

Senator Heidepriem says if corporations really are persons qualified to participate in democratic processes, then they should behave democratically. His Senate Bill 165 tells corporations, "Go ahead! Contribute to politicians and campaigns. But you have to get the approval of a majority of your stockholders first." Ah, democracy!


  1. Uh, Cory? One of our main sponsors for the home-processed foods bill is Jacqueline Sly--a Republican. She's the one who helped us (DRA) work with the Heath Dept. to get it right.

  2. Whoops! Good point, Rebecca! Credit where credit is due—let's hope Rep. Sly and Sen. Merchant can lead a bipartisan charge for some healthy farmers market deregulation and reregulation!

  3. Amen to that! Do I sense a groundswell of grassroots lobbying coming on? ;-)

  4. ...grassroots, chivesroots, lettuce roots, cucumberroots... farmers marketeers of the state, unite! You have nothing to lose but your burdensome regulations! Spread the word!


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