I won’t be eating crow for noting Kristi Noem’s impotence as Governor… and even if I do, I’ll still have to pay 4.5% sales tax on that crow.
Last year, the House hoghoused a Senate bill at the last minute to revive the idea of repealing South Dakota’s unusual food tax only to see the Senate crush it the next day. This year, it was the Senate that surprised us with a last-minute food-tax-repeal revival in a hoghoused House bill, and it was the House that killed it. Without debate, the House yesterday approved Majority Leader Will Mortenson’s motion to not concur with the Senate version of House Bill 1094 and not appoint a conference committee to hammer out differences.
The House vote to kill the food-tax repeal was 55–14. Among the Democratic caucus (whose idea repealing the food tax was until Kristi Noem flip-flopped to make it a key promise of her 2022 reëlection campaign), Reps. Duba, Healy, Lesmeister, Nelson, and Wittman all voted nay, hoping to keep the repeal alive. Rookie Rep. Eric Emery voted aye, perhaps in solidarity with the problematic support his home folks on the Rosebud and other tribal governments expressed this Session for maintaining a tax on food that disproportionately harms low-income South Dakotans. The other Lakota Representative, Peri Pourier, was absent from the HB 1094 vote.
House Republicans overwhelmingly rejected the food-tax repeal. Among the 54 Republicans who voted to kill the Senate’s food-tax-repeal revival yesterday were 17 Republicans who supported repealing the food tax last year when it was their idea: Blare, Chaffee, Deutsch, Drury, Gross, Hansen, Kevin Jensen, Ladner, May, Mills, Odenbach, Ernie Otten, Overweg, Perry, Reimer, Schneider, and St. John. The nine Republicans who tried keeping the food-tax repeal alive yesterday included right-wing trouble makers Aylward, Phil Jensen, Mulally, Sue Peterson, Randolph, Sjaarda, and Soye, who could have cast a vote against the food-tax repeal just to kick more dirt in Governor Noem’s eye but who instead stuck with their principles and voted consistently with their support for last year’s food-tax repeal effort (except for rookie Sjaarda, who wasn’t in the House to vote last year).
Governor Noem has no comment yet on this latest Legislative defeat. Instead of racing to the cameras as she did Monday afternoon when the Senate put her favorite campaign horse back on the racetrack, Noem perhaps responded to this final shooting of her food tax horse by retreating to her sauna, which she installed in the Governor’s mansion with the tax dollars collected on approximately 500,000 gallons of milk. But it’s going to take a lot of sauna time for Noem, whose 63% victory in November should have constituted an overwhelming mandate to get what she wanted from the 90% Republican Legislature, to get her mojo back.