SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A $200 million incentive for housing in the state was called a win for South Dakota by Democrats and Republicans during respective news conferences Thursday.
A $200 million package for housing infrastructure such as ground preparation, utilities and similar has support in the House and the Senate.
“It’s a huge win for South Dakota,” Republican Sen. Michael Diedrich said.
“We worked across the aisle,” Democrat Rep. Oren Lesmeister said.
Diedrich said there are communities in the state with projects ready for bids.
There’s a need for housing across the state, lawmakers said. The $200 million is a start because it won’t solve all the workforce and affordable housing needs in the state, lawmakers said.
A reduction or a complete cut of the sales tax applied to groceries is likely to happen this year, based on the support shared in the news conferences.
The Democrats have proposed one cent and two cent cuts, in case the full 4.5% is not cut, said Sen. Reynold Nesiba.
“We’re willing to compromise,” Nesiba said.
Other tax cuts are being proposed and Republican Rep. Will Mortenson promised “robust discussion” on all proposals.
Lesmeister said some tax cut proposals such as reduction in property taxes are just “shifts” in taxes. Property taxes go to school districts and counties and those entities would need to make up the difference lost from cuts, he said.
Mortenson said he and Republican Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt have been discussing with fellow lawmakers about how taxes are tied to spending. The state needs to make sure it meets spending obligations if taxes are cut, he said.
Rehfeldt said she hasn’t fully read the proposed “Help Not Harm” bill or House Bill 1080 that would make gender-affirming care for minors illegal in the state. Rehfeldt said she would listen to both supporters and opponents of the proposed bill.
Democrat Rep. Erin Healy said House Bill 1080 is based on misinformation and the use of words such as “castration” that are intended to cause fear. “(People) don’t understand what gender-affirming care is in South Dakota,” Healy said. It’s irresponsible to spread misinformation about gender-affirming care, Healy said.
The prospect of sterilization of a 14-year-old is a “jarring notion,” said Mortenson said. “I think that’s the basic premise from which the bill was born.”
Mortenson said he’s been urging the caucus to have empathy and respect for all South Dakotans while also acknowledging the need for special protection for kids.
He said House Bill 1080 will be scrutinized during the session.
Nesiba said such bills are divisive and cause individuals and the state harm. South Dakota continues to lose young people who move for jobs or education after high school because of such divisive bills, he said.