South Dakota Sebate defeats SB167

PIERRE, S.D.(SDBA) – The South Dakota Senate defeated a bill to roll back property taxes on owner occupied, single-family dwellings to the way they were in 2020.

However, like legislative attempts at property tax reform before it, questions about the specifics of the legislation helped to cripple it.

Lawmakers raised concerns about the “fairness” of the tax. The rollback would only apply to homes that had been owned by the same person since 2020. Fairness in property taxes is a requirement of the state’s constitution.

“I agree that we need property tax reform in the state of South Dakota,” said Sen. Randy Deibert, a former Lawrence County Board of Equalization member and veteran of local government. “It has been my experience that you cannot select different types of properties that have the same types of classification and value them differently.”

Property taxes across the state, but especially on the far east and west sides, have skyrocketed since 2020. That can be largely attributed to the influx of people moving to the Rushmore state since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a statewide issue,” said Sen. Jack Kolbeck, the bill’s sponsor.  “It’s not just my issue, it’s a statewide issue.”

The 20 to 11 vote to defeat the bill Thursday afternoon was indicative of the reception it received from lobbyists during its committee hearing the day prior – representatives from the business, agriculture, and education committees all testified against the bill.

“People are getting stuck with the rising taxes,” said Sen. Herman Otten. “I don’t think this is the perfect solution, but we have to do something for the owner-occupied homeowners.”

The bill represented the most substantial attempt to tackle property taxes yet this session. Still remaining are various “carve out” bills, which would create exemptions for certain business and property owners.