Representative Trish Ladner (R-30/Hot Springs) and Senator Jessica Castleberry (R-35/Rapid City) got off their right-wing radicalism long enough last fall to talk about assessing certain West River grassland as non-cropland to lower the tax burden on their ranch constituents. This morning, House Agriculture and Natural Resources will take up their formal proposal, House Bill 1039.
HB 1039 would extend noncropland status to land seeded to perennial vegetation for at least twenty years and grazed or left unharvested as well as native grassland. But such land must also have an elevation of more than 1,950 feet above sea level, meaning almost anywhere west of the Missouri except for some river valleys and almost nowhere east of the Missouri except for the peaks of the mighty Coteau du Prairie, the Highmore and Gettysburg hills, and Charlie Hoffman’s back forty.
HB 1039 would thus decouple upland pasture assessments from soil type. Grass is grass—leave it alone, or let critters eat it, and HB 1039 taxes you less.
But don’t lie about your grassy fields. Misrepresent your high grassland status, and HB 1039 will whack you with four years of back taxes based on the discount you got from the cropland assessment.