A proposal to tax bentonite and limestone died a quick death Wednesday in the South Dakota Legislature; meanwhile, other states are making millions from those very taxes. 

Chris Laughery

In The Moment ... April 24, 2019 Show 561 Hour 1

South Dakota is known for its friendly tax structure. But what's at stake when the wealthiest in the world opt out of the taxation process in their own countries?

Oliver Bullough is the author of the new book Moneyland: The Inside Story of the Crooks and Kleptocrats Who Rule the World

He's in Sioux Falls to lecture at Augustana University.

Pipeline Bill Deferred

Feb 13, 2017
Photo by Victoria Wicks

The Senate Taxation Committee has deferred a bill dealing with pipeline taxes. Sponsors hope the bill encourages companies to make pipelines with American products.

Senate Bill 158 puts a tariff on crude oil pipelines made of foreign steel. The bill also takes that revenue and puts it in a fund to pay pipeline leaks and clean up.  Certain sections also place accountability for failure to pay the tariff on company officials.

The bill’s prime sponsor is Senator Troy Heinert. He says the bill is about promoting American jobs and businesses.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

It’s the start of this year’s legislative session, and leaders are already split over how to budget new money coming to South Dakota. Online retailer Amazon is starting to collect sales tax on South Dakota purchases next month. Its timing could pose a planning issue.

Amazon begins charging both state and local sales tax for South Dakota purchases in February. Democrat and State Senator Billie Sutton says lawmakers should include those dollars in the budget that starts July first.


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.

Governor Dennis Daugaard is waiting to hear from the South Dakota Supreme Court before deciding how to act on two bills passed by the legislature.


State Lawmakers have finished the main part of their work for the 2016 legislative session.

Jenifer Jones

A sales tax hike for teacher pay and property tax relief faces its final hurdle Monday in the Statehouse. House Bill 1182 is scheduled for debate on the state Senate floor. Ahead of the vote party leaders say they’re weighing all options to increase education funding.

A sales tax increase to boost teacher pay is one vote away from the governor’s desk, but it is not a done deal.

Jenifer Jones

Lawmakers are endorsing a sales tax increase for teacher pay. House Bill 1182 adds one half-penny to the state’s sales tax to generate money for education and property tax relief. The measure failed by one vote last week. Monday it succeeded by the same margin.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

Members of South Dakota’s legislature say they have to do something for education funding this session, but they don’t agree on how to fund any changes.

Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB

Two bills that establish new guidelines for education funding in South Dakota move on to full consideration in the State Senate. This happened as members of the state House approve a reconsideration of a defeated sales tax increase to pay for the programs.

Jenifer Jones

One vote on the House floor Thursday killed a sales tax increase that supports teacher pay. A tax hike requires a super-majority, so the bill needed support from 47 state representatives. It got 46. The vote is official but it’s not the end of the discussion. 

House Bill 1182 is the governor’s legislation to add one half of one penny to the state’s sales tax. That generates $67 million for education and $40 million for property tax relief.

Jenifer Jones

Debate on a possible tax hike to fund education is stalled in the State House until next week. Educators who support more money for teacher pay packed the gallery at the Statehouse. As Representatives started work on part of a new education plan for South Dakota, discussion stopped when a fraction of lawmakers invoked a special rule.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

Lawmakers in Pierre support the first element of Governor Dennis Daugaard’s proposal to infuse more money into schools for teacher pay. House Bill 1182 is one of three bills that compose the K-12 education funding plan. The bill authorizes a sales and use tax increase of one half of one percent.  

State lawmakers working on policies to increase teacher pay are weighing accountability and local control. The two concepts clash as legislators look at a plan to raise the sales tax for teacher salary increases – even among Republicans who control both chambers of South Dakota’s legislature.

A poll commissioned by Governor Dennis Daugaard indicates at least 71 percent of likely voters approve of his plan to raise the sales tax one half-cent to increase teacher salaries.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Leaders in Pierre are laying out the governor’s new plan for dispensing state tax dollars to schools. This week’s discussion includes details about proposed caps to school districts’ reserve funds. 

South Dakota school districts are allowed to keep reserve funds. They’re basically savings accounts for general fund dollars. Part of Governor Dennis Daugaard’s plan to alter the funding formula for K-12 schools includes limiting the amount of money schools can squirrel away.

Legislative Podcast: Mandatory meningitis vaccinations & booze tax split

Jan 20, 2016

Education and Medicaid expansion are the hot topics in Pierre this session…but they’re not the only bills likely to generate public interest. SDPB’s Jenifer Jones has this rundown of some of the other bills the news team is tracking this session.


Governor Dennis Daugaard says increasing the sales tax on food does not pose an economic problem for South Dakotans. The governor’s plan to fund education increases the sales tax on all purchases one half of one penny.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Some local lawmakers from both political parties say they support Governor Dennis Daugaard’s plan to increase money for education. Two members of the Blue Ribbon Task Force say the governor is making adequately funding schools a priority. Both lawmakers still anticipate some changes to the governor’s initial plan.

Public Utilities Commissioners have approved a permit for an oil pipeline built across eastern South Dakota. The pipeline is more than 1,100 miles long and will transport crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois. Commissioners approved the permit with conditions on a split vote.

The local segment of the Dakota Access Pipeline stretches from the North Dakota border 272 miles across South Dakota to the Iowa state line. It includes one pump station, and the proposed route crosses 13 eastern South Dakota counties.

Rally Temp Vendor Sales Tax Revenue Skyrockets

Sep 15, 2015
Chynna Lockett

One early indicator shows the 2015 Sturgis Rally topped all previous records by a large margin.

The sales tax revenue generated from temporary vendor booths for this year’s rally is 76 percent higher than last year.

Temporary vendors who came in for the rally brought in about $2.4-million in sales taxes. 

Lori Haupt  is with the South Dakota Department of Revenue.  

She tracks Sturgis Rally tax receipts year by year and she says 2015 blew past all previous records.

A railroad company and the City of Sioux Falls have struck a multi-million dollar deal for land in the central part of the city. Burlington-Northern agrees to sell much of the rail yard in downtown Sioux Falls for more than $27 million.

“It’s bigger than the events center, folks,” Mayor Mike Huether says. “This is."

Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether says an agreement to buy more than 10 acres of rail land in the center of town is a major move for the community. Huether says some people thought leaders would never negotiate to buy the rail yard even with federal funding.

There are 142 federally recognized bridges in Brown County, plus around 400 miles of paved roads and 200 miles of gravel. And they don’t take care of themselves. Funding for upkeep comes from various levels of government, but the need is often greater than the funding.

The State House passed a bill on Monday afternoon, allowing the town of Deadwood to increase its municipal tax. Lawmakers are split on this bill.

School districts around Sioux Falls are concerned their schools are losing important property tax revenue to the larger city’s school district. South Dakota law allows property owners to petition to switch school districts. That’s true as long as the move doesn’t take more than two percent of the district’s tax base.

South Dakota's 2013 Fiscal Year Budget

Jul 16, 2013

South Dakota state government closed the 2013 budget year on June 30 with a surplus, Governor Dennis Daugaard announced Monday. The state general fund budget for Fiscal Year 2013 ended with higher revenues and lower expenditures than budgeted. Revenue growth for the completed 2013 fiscal year exceeded estimates adopted by the legislature last March by $13.6 million. In addition, state agencies also demonstrated fiscal restraint, spending $10.6 million less than appropriated. In total, the state's financial picture improved by $24.2 million from the March fiscal year 2013 estimates.

To change tax rates in the state, both chambers of the State Legislature requires a two-thirds vote, and now that requirement might also apply to the general public. Members of the House Judiciary Committee advanced Senate Joint Resolution 2, which requires a two-thirds majority to pass tax issues on the ballot. Under current law, South Dakota citizens only need a simple majority to pass tax initiatives. Opponents say the proposed change destroys South Dakota history. Representative Jim Bolin spoke in opposition of the resolution.

Tourism Tax Rates To Continue

Jan 30, 2013

The State Senate passed a bill Tuesday to continue tourism tax rates of half a penny to increase tourism. Some of the money raised go toward the Department of Tourism. The tourism department uses funds for marketing and arts agencies. State Senator Corey Brown says discontinuing the tax could cause more harm then most realize.

"Without this bill in essence the extra half penny would go away and we’d automatically cut our sales force. And I don’t want to specifically only focus on the tourism piece of this because there are other parts that benefit," says Brown.

House Passes Tax Break On Cars Built From Parts

Jan 16, 2013

Lawmakers in Pierre are considering cutting the tax on cars built from spare parts.  The legislation could make it easier to build a car one piece at a time.

Not all cars in South Dakota come fresh off the lot. Some are put together from spare parts. Republican State Representative Lee Qualm from Platte wants to make sure those who build their own cars aren’t being taxed twice.

The Fiscal Cliff And Tax Hikes

Dec 19, 2012

Tax increases could hit millions of families and businesses a lot sooner than many realize if Congress and the White House don't agree on a plan to avoid the year-end fiscal cliff of automatic tax increases and government spending cuts.  Michael Keller, Dean of the Beacom School of Business at the University of South Dakota, looked at how South Dakotans would be affected.