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Legislators Suggest More Coronavirus Relief for More Small Businesses and Farmers, Scrimmage with Noem over Spending Authority

Increased sales tax revenues aren’t dissuading legislators from supporting Governor Kristi Noem’s plan to direct the biggest chunk yet of South Dakota’s federal coronavirus relief funds to their friends in business. The Interim Appropriations Committee recommended yesterday that Governor Noem spend more, not less, to intervene in the marketplace and check the creative destruction of the Invisible Hand:

The appropriators initially disagreed on whether the program amount should be $200 million, $400 million or some other figure. They voted 11-4 to recommend $400 million [Bob Mercer, “S.D. Lawmakers Review Governor’s Plan to Spend Some of Covid-19 Funds on Small Businesses,” KELO-TV, 2020.09.10].

Appropriators did express their support for the $100K cap on grants to any one business. And, evidently reading this blog’s critiques, the committee recognized that the “Small Business Grants” needed to be directed at more small businesses and fewer big businesses. They also noted that the Governor’s plan needed to acknowledge that some businesses may have incurred harms from the pandemic beyond spring:

The committee reduced the governor’s proposed threshold of $50,000 gross revenue from 2019 and recommended $25,000 instead, 10-6. “$25,000 seems like a viable number,” Senator Ryan Maher, an Isabel Republican, said. Another recommendation was that a business must show at least a 25% reduction in revenue.

Other recommendations from the panel included limiting eligibility to businesses with maximum gross revenue of $38.5 million and opening the revenue-comparison period to six months of March through August, rather than the governor’s proposed three months of March through May.

“A specified three months is going to make it very difficult for agriculture,” Representative Randy Gross, an Elkton Republican, said [Mercer, 2020.09.10].

Yup—if there are welfare checks to hand out, we can’t leave out South Dakota’s biggest welfare recipients, our farmers.

Not that the Appropriations Committee really has anything to say about how the Governor spends our coronavirus relief funds… at least according to the Governor:

The governor’s finance commissioner, Liza Clark, said the governor’s authority to accept and spend the COVID-19 AID without the Legislature’s oversight comes from a 1919 state law on federal funds.

Representative Taffy Howard, a Rapid City Republican, countered that a 1974 state law requires the governor to first seek the appropriations committee’s authority. Clark said the 1974 law doesn’t apply in this instance.

Congress authorized governors to spend the aid [Mercer, 2020.09.10].

As I check those two statutes, I’m inclined to side with Representative Howard. The 1919 statute Clark cites authorizes the Governor to “accept” money from the feds, says such money “shall be administered and expended under the immediate supervision of the Governor,” and empowers the Governor to approve the vouchers for paying out such money. However, the 1974 statute Rep. Howard cites explicitly notwithstands the 1919 statute and says such money accepted by the Governor “shall not be deemed appropriated” until the Interim Appropriations Committee reviews and affirmatively votes to accept that money.

But hey, Appropriations, you go right ahead and tussle over who has spending authority here. The longer you can delay the actual disbursement of coronavirus relief funds, the more interest Kristi can make on them.


  1. jerry 2020-09-11

    How much of this will the first gent of South Dakota get? Seems like just another grift without oversight.

  2. Debbo 2020-09-11

    The Roger Cornelius Memorial Cartoon by Marty Two Bulls.

  3. John 2020-09-12

    A handful of legislators bleat about Neom’s likely unlawfully spending $1.25 billion in federal grants . . . but other than stage a publicity hearing . . . they’ll provide no oversight by doing nothing else (no injunction, no suit, no calling themselves into session as a separate but equal branch of government, etc.).

  4. jerry 2020-09-12

    The CARES Act was never designed for small business otherwise it would have never passed the senate. The idea to pass this was the hope of a trickle down kind of thingy (that never works). Hide and watch while Tinker Belle GNOem spreads that magical pixie dust on her supporters that don’t need the help, just the greed baby.

  5. leslie 2020-09-12

    SALON, Chauncy DeVega, 8.31.20:

    ‘This is a global endeavor. Even if we identify elements of the fascist playbook in Trumpism, the key lesson remains that the American past and present are parts of a broader transnational history. American exceptionalist views ignore the serious threat to democracy that President Trump poses. Paradoxically, by insisting on its own singularity, America risks becoming just another country that was unable to stop dictatorship.
    The practical alternative to this exceptionalism and the complacency it instills is the one that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez offered as the Democratic convention closed Tuesday night. “I think everyone understands the vast importance of reclaiming our democracy,” she said. “We can have debates on a whole swing and slew of other issues, but I think it’s extremely important to recognize the fascism, the very real fascism, that this president represents.” To blanch at the dropping of an “f”-bomb–to reserve “fascism” as a museum label for long-extinct foreign curiosities and dismiss the Trump government as too American or too dumb to be fascistic—is to abdicate our responsibilities as thinking citizens. The proper reaction when facing fascism is unity and coalition-building between conservatives, liberals, and leftists to confront the threat.’

    It is a daunting prospect. These next few years require competence and bold determination to right this ship. Deep revision of the systems that have failed us. BLM? Hell yes. Indian lives matter. Black Elk Peak! It starts when the United States dumps the GOP. 60 days.

    ‘Republican Party right now is anti-American. If America is anything, it’s a nation of immigrants, and they’re an anti-immigrant party. If America is anything, it’s supporting the Bill of Rights. Today’s Republicans are against many parts of the Bill of Rights. Trump does not believe in freedom of the press. Trump does not believe in freedom of assembly. Trump and today’s Republican Party are anti-American.

    In the 1930s, there was a huge fascist element in America. Why did America not fall to fascism like Italy and Germany and other European countries? Probably because Roosevelt was president and not Charles Lindbergh. One of the critical lessons I take away from Donald Trump’s presidency is that leaders matter.

    This entire election is about one thing: the nonwhite vote. Republicans are trying to suppress nonwhite votes in every way they can, be it legal
    or illegal. They want to suppress the nonwhite vote and maximize the white vote. That is all. Donald Trump is a white-grievance president.’

  6. leslie 2020-09-12

    Kristi-like all of Trump’s surrogates, is not ready for prime time. Take Chad Wolf, “”acting”” Secretary Homeland Security’s debacle in Portland for Trump’s reelection based on law and order protecting the city, not just the couple of federal buildings, from peaceful leftist “thug” protestors including the mayor, and occasional antifascists—which everyone of us should be, peacefully—anyway chad violated the Hatch Act. He later explained he didn’t know the citizenship ceremony would be part of the RNC.

    He “didn’t know.” So the ceremony was for four people—in the WHITEHOUSE—with the PRESIDENT there, with all the lights, cameras, makeup and props—he didn’t know??? He’s either lying or he’s as stupid as, I don’t know, Mark Espers.

    Kristi is right now a scintilla away from becoming a bigger laughingstock than Larry Pressler, Sarah Palin, any of Trump’s press secretarys or any of the nepotistists and family members except Mary, and perhaps her father, Freddie before he died of alcoholism.

    I am so sick of the mayhem Republicans expose the rest of us to daily. We may not make it out of here.

  7. Bob Klein 2020-09-14

    Where are interest rates high enough to provide sufficient motivation?

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