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Legislature Sustains Veto On Vegetation Buffer Strip Measure


Lawmakers finished their final day of work for the 2016 legislative session. They discussed five measures on veto day, ultimately agreeing with the Governor in all but one style and form veto.   Senate Bill 136, which incentivizes grassland buffer strips along waterways, failed to make it through both houses of the legislature.

Senate Bill 136 allows agricultural soils within 50 feet of a lake, river, or stream to be categorized as non-cropland if the land is seeded to perennial vegetation. This reduces taxes on that portion of land. Governor Dennis Daugaard says it shifts a burden from one group of taxpayers to another, and goes against the principle of taxing property based on its highest and best use.

State Senators voted 32 to one to override the veto. Then the bill went to the House.

Representative Julie Bartling spoke in favor of an override. She says you can see the importance of the measure any time there’s a heavy rain.

“Look at the mud that is flowing into the river, into the Big Sioux from the land off of the edges of that,” Bartling says. “That’s tragic that we’re losing that soil, for one thing, into the water, but that we’re also contaminating the water. So we need to do something. And I personally think that the highest and best use for land in those circumstances is perennial vegetation. It’s going to keep that soil in place. It’s going to help to have a secure and safe water supply for number one the largest city in our state, but all the cities up and down the Big Sioux and other rivers across the state.”

The Governor says the measure is potentially unconstitutional, a concern shared by several lawmakers. Representative Lee Qualm asked the legislature to sustain the veto.

“I am very concerned about having Department of Revenue set up the rules as to what creeks are allowed, what lakes are allowed, what will the impact be,” Qualm says. “We’ve heard several people say that they don’t think the taxable impact would be that much. Let’s find out for sure. Let’s decide what it is. Because if you look at the creeks across the state, there’s a lot of creeks out there. And what will be affected? Which ones will we use? I think we should sustain the veto, and let this go to the Agland Assessment Task Force.”

Thirty seven Representatives voted to override the veto, and 28 voted against, falling short of the 2/3ds vote needed, so the veto stands.