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Rhoden Says Inspection Fees Are Taxes, Forces Two-Thirds Vote on Hemp to Insulate Noem from Veto Blame

The Senate voted 21–14 yesterday for House Bill 1191, the main hemp legalization bill in Pierre. Normally that would mean the bill is headed for the Governor. But our hemp-hating Kristi Trump’s Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden used his Senate gavel yesterday to declare that HB 1191 has to get a two-thirds vote to pass:

House Bill 1191 failed in the Senate Tuesday, March 5, by a 21-14 vote — just three votes shy of passing by the two-thirds majority margin. Senate President and Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden said the bill required a two-thirds vote because it established fees.

In a last-resort move to save the bill, House Majority Whip Sen. Jordan Youngberg, R-Madison, motioned to reconsider the bill. The Senate will take up the bill again on Wednesday, just one day before the 2019 session’s final deadline to pass bills out of both chambers [Sarah Mearhoff, “Hemp Legalization in South Dakota Barely Hangs on After Noem’s Persistent Opposition, Failed Senate Vote,” Inforum, 2019.03.05].

Wait a minute. Lt. Gov. Rhoden appears to be making stuff up.

Article 11 Section 14 of the South Dakota Constitution requires a two-thirds vote from each chamber on any vote to impose a new tax or increase an existing rate of taxation. The article uses the word tax, not fee.

The version of HB 1191 that passed the House 65–2 does not contain the word tax. Neither does the extensive amendment with which sensible Senators tried to placate our hemp-isterical Governor yesterday. HB 1191 refers to “inspection, testing, licensure, and other fees.” I’ve been pish-toshed by Republicans in the past when I’ve contended that taxes and fees are the same thing, and there’s a fair legal argument that they are not the same thing. But apparently Lt. Gov. Rhoden and the Legislature are adopting the position that taxes and fees are identical… which we all should remember when the Legislature imposes the new “source market fee” on totalizator hubs for the horse-racing subsidy and Governor Noem tries to explain why she broke her “We won’t raise taxes” promise (yes, Kevin, she said exactly those words in her State of the State Address on January 8, 2019) after just two months.

Practically speaking, Kristi’s Lieutenant didn’t need to manufacture yesterday’s two-thirds-for-taxes ruling to kill the hemp bill. The Senate will need a two-thirds vote to overcome Kristi Trump’s angry veto, so if the Senate can’t clear 24 votes now, they won’t clear 24 on Veto Day, March 29.

But by requiring a two-thirds vote yesterday, Rhoden did manage to keep HB 1191 off Noem’s desk, at least for a day. If the Senate can’t muster a two-thirds vote now, then Governor Noem doesn’t have to shoulder the blame for vetoing it; she can shift blame to fourteen Senators for standing in the way of free market choices for farmers.

By the way, the Republican Senators giving Noem cover for her baseless hempisteria (HB 1191 prime sponsor Rep. Oren Lesmeister says Governor Noem is “uneducated” on hemp) are Blare, Bolin, Cronin, Ewing, Langer, Monroe, Novstrup, Partridge, Russell, Schoenbeck, Stalzer, Sutton, White, and Wiik. The five Democrats all voted Aye on HB 1191.

Senator Al Novstrup said Saturday he was leaning yes but still open to arguments on HB 1191. He must have gotten the argument he needed, a message from the Governor telling him to get in line with the boss and do what he’s told.

In related news, the Senate also keeps delaying its vote on HB 1212, the hemp companion bill that would immediately appropriate $10,000 to set in motion an industrial hemp licensure program.


  1. Jenny 2019-03-06 13:06

    Shame on you Republicans! The South Dakota Republican Legislature Should be Embarrassed and ashamed for not Giving farmers the opportunity to Diversify. Shame on you!
    Shame on you Lee Schoenbeck, Kris Langer, goofball Monroe and all the others That voted against giving farmers an opportunity. What a worthless group And most of all shame on you, Governor Noem. You’re all hypocrites when you talk about free market.

  2. RICHARD SCHRIEVER 2019-03-06 13:28

    In North Dakota, the word “fee” is the equivalent of a “fine”, not a tax. Just sayin’.

  3. o 2019-03-06 13:49

    Part of me loves a good, strategic, procedural maneuver (as long as it is within the rules), but is this a case where the short-term gain of keeping one bill off the Governor’s desk causes FAR more trouble in the future: does EVERY bill now need a 2/3 vote if there is the creation or upward adjustment of fees? Do other fees now need to be reconsidered/validated under this new interpretation?

  4. Jenny 2019-03-06 13:56

    This is just the shamelessly Corrupted way they do things in Pierre, SD, O. They planned it this way. What Kristi wants Kristi gets. For claiming to being such a supporter of farmers this is really a big F you to them.

  5. mike from iowa 2019-03-06 14:22

    What could be more diversified than your choice of milch cows or dairy cow cafos as long as G Marky and pardner get their cut?

  6. Buckobear 2019-03-06 14:30

    Oh well, there are precedents:
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

    Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking Glass”

  7. Debbo 2019-03-06 15:28

    This stupid trick made news in Minn too.

    SD’s Central Collective Office deciding which crops farmers are allowed to plant. The old Soviets would be so proud.

  8. Donald Pay 2019-03-06 16:01

    Meanwhile, Wisconsin is going into a second year of hemp production with nearly 1,000+ farmer wanting to plant this year. Mostly this is small-scale planting just to experiment with the agronomy and market. We started this under ALEC darling Scott Walker, by the way. It’s not an outlandish idea.

    As with wind and solar, South Dakota leaders are so caught up in head-up-the-ass thinking they are letting the “next little things” pass them by. While South Dakota does everything to put roadblocks on investment, its economy goes down the tubes.

  9. bearcreekbat 2019-03-06 17:42

    The news has just reported that the Senate amended the billl today by removing the tax/fee, passed it with 21 votes and sent the amended bill to the House.

  10. Mark 2019-03-06 18:01

    Bill Janklow is back from the dead.
    Reincarnated as a woman.
    Same corrupt you know what is still
    alive and well in Pierre.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-06 21:05

    Mark, Noem doesn’t have Janklow’s brains or vision. She has McCaulley and Team Thune pulling her strings.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-06 21:08

    UPDATE! Senate amended again, stripped out the appropriations langauge, and got LG Rhoden to allow the bill to pass with a mere majority vote. The Senators cast their votes the same way as yesterday (Novstruo is stil a Nay), but now the bill passes and goes to conference committee.

    But we still need a two-thirds vote to override Noem’s veto. Arms remain to be twisted. There’s your crackerbarrel topic for the weekend.

  13. grudznick 2019-03-06 21:12

    Mr. Novstruo [sic] is a master of playing the games, Mr. H. He is playing games with many layers that go far beyond the ken of your average voter or bloggers like us, I am sure.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-06 21:23

    “Canadian Greenfield Hemp Train”—Francis! That’s just like the Brock and Lana Greenfield hemp train! The Greenfields both voted for HB 1191!

    Don’t cancel that order yet, Francis. Invest now, be ready to capitalize immediately… then put that money in the bank and donate the interest to my 2022 gubernatorial campaign… or to anyone who promises to make Noem a one-term Governor.

  15. leslie 2019-03-07 01:09

    Al Novstrup AND Lee Schoenbeck are water carriers for la gubernatrix, who carries water for Ken.

  16. Jenny 2019-03-07 08:00

    Billie Sutton anyone? He would have already signed the Hemp bill.

  17. TAG 2019-03-07 10:18

    Cory, does this maneuver now set a precedent about fees being classified as new taxes, and forcing a 2/3 vote? If so, I can see some political ramifications down the road. Or can they just pick and choose when they want fees to be considered taxes when it suits need?

  18. Nick Nemec 2019-03-07 10:48

    In the South Dakota legislature if you have the votes anything goes.

  19. chris 2019-03-07 14:34

    Lol, Kristi passes out candy!

    “Senators who voted Wednesday against legalizing industrial hemp in South Dakota found boxes Dots candy on their Capitol desks Thursday morning with thank-you notes from Gov. Kristi Noem. Senators voted 21-14 for HB 1191, three less than 24 needed for overriding a governor’s veto.”

  20. Debbo 2019-03-07 14:49

    Here’s something that shows potential to help farmers much more than Noem and the SDGOP ever will. It’s the Farmers Business Network, selling seed for about half what Monsanto and DowDuPont charge. In another contrast with SD’s government, FBN offers real transparency of the see through window glass type.

    The article is in Bloomberg and fairly short.

  21. TAG 2019-03-08 14:48

    ” …boxes Dots candy on their Capitol desks Thursday morning with thank-you notes from Gov. Kristi Noem.”

    I mean, is she now the sorority girl on “Legally Blonde”? Did she “bedazzle” the notes? I thought she was the ratty-baseball-cap-wearing, horse-riding, gun-toting farm girl? I’m so confused.

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