Time for a path Forward on Tax Reform in Congress

The first hearings are being held in the US House of Representatives this week on what shape comprehensive tax reform will take, and they’re long overdue. While other countries have taken steps to modernize and improve their tax codes, the United States has done nothing. Our current tax code is not only outdated, it has one of the highest tax rates in the world and encourages business investment and job creation overseas.

We need to bring the U.S. in line with the rest of the world. American businesses need an updated tax code that levels the playing field so they can compete with products and services from around the world. One of the best chances for us to do that is the House Blueprint as championed by the White House and Congress, which offers long overdue changes that will foster growth and prosperity for the American economy and workforce.

The House Blueprint creates a level playing field for U.S. businesses. Business tax rates would be more affordable and products made here would no longer be taxed at higher rates than products made overseas, which is similar to other “border adjustment” policies used by over 160 countries. However, the Border Adjustment tax stands as one of the most contentious parts of the House Blueprint, with some in the Senate standing against it.

However, as we’d noted before, as opposed to complaints about the border adjustment tax costing families money, as part of a comprehensive package, the plan could save families nearly $4600 annually.

Proponents of the House Blueprint on taxes note that these tax reforms will help businesses of all sizes invest in their companies and employees, adding American jobs to the tune of 1.7 million new jobs and an estimated 8% increase in pay.

Changes to the tax code are critical to the future of the U.S. And the House Blueprint is the start we need for Congress to work on fixing the imbalance and to better position our nation to grow and succeed.

Noem Applauds DOE for Revoking Deep Borehole Field Test Proposal

Noem Applauds DOE for Revoking Deep Borehole Field Test Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem today applauded the U.S. Department of Energy’s announcement that the agency “does not intend to continue supporting the Deep Borehole Field Test project.” Locations in Haakon and Spink counties were considered as sites for the testing, but significant concerns were raised by Rep. Noem and community members regarding the potential for these sites to house future nuclear waste.

“Like many South Dakotans in Spink and Haakon counties, I was deeply concerned about doing testing in our backyard to determine whether deep boreholes could store nuclear waste,” said Noem.  “I am grateful to the Trump administration for hearing the concerns raised by these communities and subsequently withdrawing consideration of this proposal.”


Marty Jackley fundraiser to feature Chad Greenway and Mike Miller

Attorney General Marty Jackley is announcing tonight a large fundraising event coming up on June 8th, featuring two professional sports athletes from South Dakota.

Mt. Vernon native Chad Greenway, and Mitchell’s favorite son Mike Miller will be appearing at the fundraiser at CJ Callaways on the 8th to help Jackley raise money for his Gubernatorial campaign.

Could be an interesting night! Stay tuned.

One 2018 pot-legalization ballot measure is not like the other? No, they’re both awful.

This week KSFY News had a story about how the backers of one pro-pot legalization measure was not happy with the other pro-pot legalization measure being prepared for the ballot.  And they’re mad at the Attorney General too:

“Signer beware” is the message from a pro-pot organization in South Dakota that’s hoping to bring the issue of marijuana legalization to the ballot next year. New Approach South Dakota isn’t talking about the two petitions they have circulating to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes – they’re talking about a separate effort that would accomplish the same thing, but with some major differences.

According to the Attorney General’s explanation, differences like a lot less tax revenue for the state and a whole lot less regulation of the drug, but New Approach isn’t happy about their AG explanation.

Read that here.

New Approach,” the group fronted by former Democrat District 19 House candidate Melissa Mentele is complaining about the pot legalization measure from the John Dale and his group “Cannabis Consumers for Liberty (CC4L)” competing against her own, bemoaning it’s “less tax revenue for the state and a whole lot less regulation of the drug.

I’m forced to ask the obvious: “Is she kidding?”  Both are about legalizing drugs.

I’m not going to get into the weeds on which pot legalization measure is the worse measure, the CC4L measure which mandates April 20th as “pot day” at South Dakota State Parks, or the New Approach measure which mandates that all non-violent pot sentences be re-worked:

I did ask Attorney General Marty Jackley for his thoughts:

As Attorney General, it is my position that the legalization of marijuana creates significant public health and safety concerns.   If research determines there is a medical value in marijuana or its derivatives, it should be prescribed by a physician and dispensed by a pharmacist just like any controlled substance.

My office is required to prepare a fair and concise explanation for proposed ballot measures and to defend such measures if passed and challenged in court, whether I agree with them or not.  In the proposed marijuana measure that includes reviewing previous criminal convictions, I have set forth “Because its full scope and effect are unclear, judicial or legislative clarification will be necessary.  A court may find provisions of the measure unconstitutional.”  I would point out that Article IV, Section 3 of our State Constitution vests the authority and discretion for criminal sentence commutations with the Governor.

There is currently a national drug epidemic that is also affecting South Dakota, rather than weakening our State laws, I encourage us to focus our efforts and resources on strong enforcement against drug traffickers and prevention efforts especially for our youth such as “No Meth Ever” and the anonymous texting “Standup Project.”

Whether it is the CC4L measure promoting a state park recognized Pot Day, or the pot related get-out-of-jail free cards New Approach wants, both measures are so phenomenally awful, that forget any impending campaigns, anyone who signs the petitions to put them on the ballot should be questioned for not having the sense that God gave them.

When it comes to both pot and pot petitions, the best course of action is to “Just Say No.”

Terry LaFleur, GOP Outlier candidate for Gov, proposes 15% income tax

Never let it be said that all Republicans oppose a state income tax. (Just most of us).

This morning, the same Republican candidate who has his sights set on universal healthcare and repealing the State Bar exam has another proposal he’s offering up to the prospective voters who might elect him. He wants to impose a 15% State Income Tax with no refunds.

From Facebook:

Thoughts? Is he in the right political party?

Billie might not be Dem’s Hero. Are Dems trying to push a couple of reluctant candidates forward?

Did you notice how Democrat State Senator Billie Sutton, who was said to be planning to announce that he was going to be running for Governor at the Democrat’s McGovern Day Dinner, didn’t?

While Sutton spoke at the event, he held back from letting Democrats know they had a candidate, even after supposedly poaching the party’s Executive Director for his effort, leaving an already chaotic mess in further disarray.

Here’s where we get into the rumor mill – What I’m hearing on the street is that Sutton is getting somewhat contradictory advice in the matter. Some are urging him to proudly carry the banner for the beleaguered SDDP, and try to show that they are able to produce a viable candidate after their last disaster of the inept Susan Wismer helping along Republicans to one of their biggest victories ever in a gubernatorial contest.

But not so fast… I’m also hearing that Sutton is being counseled and pulled the other way… to NOT run, recognizing that whether it’s Kristi Noem or Marty Jackley leading the party in 2018, it is not a race he wants to take on, especially given the disorganized mess the Democrat Party is in.   Let’s face it. It’s not as if Ann Tornberg had a good year in 2016, and the Democrat party is even further fractured after the debacle of the recently attempted and failed Ann Tornberg coup.

What might be further driving it is that the rest of their ticket isn’t in such good shape. While Republicans have competitive races for many seats, all the Dems have is the foul-mouthed Chris Martian running for Congress on the Dem ticket. The unemployed IT professional isn’t exactly known among dems, nor does he seem to have the financial wherewithal to raise dollars for a congressional race. Martian isn’t their favorite at this time.

Plus, they may be ignoring him because State Dems know there’s someone better in the wings, and they don’t want to waste time with someone out of nowhere.

It has been rumored that Senate Democrat Assistant Minority Leader Troy Heinert may be weighing entering the Congressional contest. The well spoken Heinert would certainly electrify Democrats more than a profane and crass Martian, but South Dakota is still a Republican state, and the hill to climb might be impossible to navigate.  Heinert might be well spoken, but he is most definitely in the hard D column, and would be campaigning on a pretty liberal voting record that might be hard for many South Dakotans to swallow.

Further driving Dem reluctance is that if both Heinert and Sutton ran and lost, that could take a large and significant bite out of Democrat Leadership, with two of their most capable spokesmen out of the legislature for two years.

So, will Billie be dem’s hero? Hard to say at this point. But the clock is ticking down to get a campaign underway. For both he and/or Heinert.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: South Dakota Businesses Would Benefit From Pro-Growth Tax Reform

South Dakota Businesses Would Benefit From Pro-Growth Tax Reform
By Sen. John Thune

The United States is long overdue for a major tax reform bill. After eight years of economic weakness, we need a tax code that works for workers and job creators, not against them.

Our current tax code is strangling business growth, job creation, and higher wages. Our nation has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, putting American businesses at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy. Meanwhile, small businesses and family farms face high tax rates and other burdensome tax policies that make it difficult for them to expand and create new jobs.

The most important tax-related measures we can take to boost economic growth are lowering business tax rates and allowing businesses to recover their investments faster. This week, I’m introducing a tax bill in the U.S. Senate to address the second part of that equation. My bill, the Investment in New Ventures and Economic Success Today (INVEST) Act, focuses on helping small and medium-sized businesses by allowing them to recover their investments more quickly – in many cases expensing them immediately – thus freeing up capital to reinvest in the company.

The INVEST Act would allow new businesses to deduct a substantial part, if not all, of their startup costs within the first year. Currently, new businesses can only deduct $5,000 of these costs. My bill would substantially increase that amount to $50,000. This would significantly improve the stability of new businesses by freeing up cash they can use to grow. Plus, it would help encourage new business creation, an essential feature of a healthy economy.

A second part of my bill focuses on increasing cash flow for small and medium-sized businesses, farms, and ranches – in particular those that operate as corporations and partnerships – by allowing them to use cash accounting instead of accrual accounting. This would allow a business to be taxed on income when it receives the cash from the customer and to deduct an expense when it pays its supplier.

That means that businesses with inventories would be allowed to deduct investments in inventory up front, rather than having to wait until the inventory is sold, leaving them with more cash on hand to put back into their companies. It would also reduce the need for businesses to employ armies of lawyers and accountants to ensure that they’ve properly adhered to complex accounting rules.

Finally, the INVEST Act would substantially reform the depreciation and other expensing rules. Traditionally, farms and businesses have been forced to deduct expenses like machinery, property, or agricultural equipment over an extended period – anywhere from five to 10 years, and as much as 39 years for commercial buildings – which can leave a farm or business with its cash tied up for years in all the property it takes to run a successful enterprise.

My bill would permanently allow all businesses to deduct 50 percent of their investment in equipment, vehicles, machinery, and most other property during the year in which it is purchased. Small and medium-sized businesses would be allowed to immediately deduct 100 percent of new investments in business property up to $2 million.

For farmers and ranchers, who may reach the limit on full expensing, the bill substantially increases the rate at which they can depreciate the cost of tractors, combines, and other farm property. The bill also helps farms and businesses that rely on cars, light trucks, and vans by substantially increasing the amount they can deduct when investing in a new business vehicle.

Forcing business owners, farmers, and ranchers to lock up their capital for years or even decades, as our current tax code does, discourages growth and job creation. We need to free these individuals up as much as possible to redeploy that hard-to-raise capital back into business expansion, increased wages, and new jobs.

The weak economic growth of the past few years doesn’t have to be the new normal, but full economic recovery is only possible if we remove the obstacles facing our nation’s businesses. We need a tax code that works for American businesses, not against them.

I hope the INVEST Act will become an essential part of a broader tax reform package in the Senate that will help create the strong, sustainable growth Americans have been waiting for.


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: South Dakota Students Taking the Next Steps

South Dakota Students Taking the Next Steps
By Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

Every spring, a new group of students takes a big step into the next phase of life upon graduation. Whether students are moving on from high school, college or a technical institute, each graduate has an opportunity to use his or her talents, education and determination to shape their future and begin a new journey in life. I congratulate all 2017 graduates as they step out into the world to make a mark of their own.

We are fortunate in South Dakota to have good, quality grammar and high schools and more than a dozen universities and technical colleges, allowing our young people to receive a top-notch education right here at home. We are grateful for the teachers and professors across the state who dedicate their lives to educating our youth. Their commitment to education and teaching plants the seeds for a brighter, stronger South Dakota in the future.

As they step out into the world, I hope this year’s graduates remember the values and lessons instilled in them by their teachers, families, communities and neighbors.  When our four kids graduated high school and college, Jean and I gave them as much guidance and advice as we could, but at the end of the day, it was their responsibility to choose what they wanted to do in life and to make it happen. We are tremendously proud of the people they have become, and we are glad they have all chosen to stay right here in South Dakota to put their talents to use and raise families of their own. One of our greatest joys in life is watching them raise our grandchildren, the next generation of South Dakota students.

The United States truly is the land of opportunity, and receiving an education is the first step that allows us to achieve our dreams. Graduation opens up a brand new world to discover, and I encourage graduates to explore each opportunity that comes their way.

Regardless of our graduates’ next plans, I hope they will move into their next chapter with a problem-solving, kind and generous attitude about whatever happens in life. A motto that I come back to time and again, especially in my current job as a senator, is, “leave this world better off than when you entered it.” I work to do that as I represent South Dakota in the Senate and I hope that South Dakota’s young people will follow a path in life that gives them the opportunity to make this a better world for themselves and for all future generations of Americans.  They have been given the tools they need to succeed; the future is now theirs to shape.