Heinemann’s Legislative Report Week 1

By Rep. Leslie Heinemann

Greetings as we begin the new year, and a new legislative session!
I want to start by thanking all those that directly or indirectly helped me get reelected to the State House for a third term. Most of you know campaigning is not a very glamorous task, and I sincerely appreciate the broad support I received throughout District 8; an affirmation to me that the voters believe, regardless of the issue, I will make informed decisions to the best of my ability.
This past week was filled with addresses to the Legislature by the Governor, Supreme Court Chief Justice, and a representative of the nine tribes in South Dakota, from the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Some legislators would prefer to jump right into the bill process, but I realize it is important to allow, and hear, from these three entities as we prepare for approximately  nine weeks of session.
The Governor reported that revenue to date is down a total of $31.9 million from expected in Fiscal Year [FY] 2017. He cited the farm economy, low inflation, cautious consumers, and an increase in online sales purchases as all contributing to the reason for softer sales revenue collections. As most of you know, our sales tax is roughly two thirds of all the revenue taken in to fund our state government, so with a dip in that number, there is legitimate concern for the budget.
On a positive note, the Governor announced that Amazon had agreed to start the sales tax collection process of their online sales to South Dakota residents starting Feb. 11. The state Revenue Department collects state wide sales tax through a single point system, including city sales tax, so it helped make Amazon’s reporting of the sales tax amounts a little more user friendly. We don’t know the estimated amount, but clearly it’s a big win for the state. Online sales purchasing has grown substantially, and, even though sales tax is due on those purchases, the respective company does not have an obligation to the state to collect and remit that tax, which is to be paid by the buyer via a separate submitted report. State officials hope this will help lead the way for other online companies to follow, and it will help support our local retailers as well.
I look forward to your input on any issue you feel is important to you. As we get into the calendar of bills, I’ll mention some of the more interesting ones in this column, as we can’t cover everything here. I am eager to work with your other elected District 8 legislators, Representative Wollman and Senator Youngberg! Our email address has changed this year. That is the best way to reach me. I was elected as a Majority Whip Leader this year, so I will have more responsibilities, but also have an intern to help me with constituent contacts. Email me at Leslie.Heinemann@sdlegislature.gov

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