State Senate Majority Leader Casey Crabtree
Weekly Column: Progress for South Dakota
MADISON–While most of District 8 was digging out from the latest blizzard, your state Legislature dug in and worked hard to meet our Crossover Day deadline and we considered the largest tax cut in South Dakota state history.
South Dakota’s Legislative process works. We extend an opportunity for every piece of legislation to have a hearing. This allows every lawmaker the chance to be a voice for their district. The Senate recorded 219 proposals in 2023, and 63 percent have been agreed to by the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives.
This week I continued to advocate for tuition freezes at our universities and technical colleges. Making school affordable is one of the best ways we can impact workforce development for our next generation leaders. Tuition freezes help kids fight inflation and keep more dollars in their pocket as they enter the workforce. Plus, keeping our talent in South Dakota after high school means we need more affordable higher education. That is how we grow South Dakota’s economy and expand prosperity for our residents.
The Senate had a robust and healthy debate on a number of issues in Week 7. Notably, the Senate considered two proposals to address the foreign ownership of agricultural land in the state. Every member of the Legislature agrees that the Chinese Communist Party should not own land in South Dakota. We agree in principle along with the Governor. The question is how the state establishes laws, processes and regulations that do not adversely impact honest, hardworking farmers looking to sell land to young families who want to start farming.
My hope is that farmers, landowners and policymakers can agree on a proposal for the 2024 session in the absence of a federal solution to this national security threat. The Legislature did unanimously pass HB 1189 to address foreign land ownership. This bill closes a loophole in the current foreign ag land ownership ban. Right now, foreign persons are banned from owning 160 acres or more. This bill bans foreign entities from owning more than 160 acres.
Next week is our deadline to pass policy proposals before we turn our attention to finalizing the state’s budget in the final week of session. The Senate will have its first chance to vote on the largest tax cut in the history of the state. I am committed to a fiscally conservative budget for our state. We can meet our needs and increase funding for schools and vulnerable populations while also reducing the tax burden for South Dakota families. Based on the strength of our economy, we can do it, South Dakota.