In order to develop its legislative platform, the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, through its Issues Management Council, conducts research, hears presentations and surveys its members about issues affecting business. These efforts, combined with actively following and monitoring legislative activity since the close of last session, guide our efforts toward developing the platform for the upcoming session. The platform is reviewed, edited and approved by the Issues Management Council and forwarded to the Chamber Executive Committee for review and the Chamber Board for adoption. The platform was adopted at the Board of Directors meeting on December 14, 2016.
SB 235 of the 2013 Legislative Session established the Building South Dakota Fund and during the 2014 Session, one-time funds were used to forward fund the new program. We will continue to monitor the use and impact of this program and we will closely analyze any legislation that impacts this program and other economic development efforts in our state.
Tax increment financing (TIF) has been an effective economic development tool and the Chamber supports current law regarding the application of TIFs and opposes changes that would negatively impact this program´s effectiveness.
The Chamber recognizes that a safe, efficient and responsive transportation infrastructure is critical to economic development and commerce in Sioux Falls and throughout South Dakota. The Chamber encouraged the 2015 Legislature to address the funding needs of our state and local highway and bridge systems leading to the enactment of a comprehensive funding program for these systems. The Chamber supports the evaluation of our highway and bridge systems on an ongoing basis. The full impact of the new funding approved in 2015 including local flexibilities should be carefully reviewed before new funding is considered. We also support retaining the requirement of local county effort for match funding.
Waterways Buffer Strip Bill: Last session, we supported a bill to create buffer strips along waterways (e.g. Skunk Creek and the Big Sioux River) to help filter sediment and pollutants before they enter the waterway. The bill passed, but was vetoed by the Governor and the veto was sustained. Given the importance of the Big Sioux in Sioux Falls as an amenity for quality of life and a feature for development, we will work to support passage of a bill the Governor´s office is considering bringing for the 2017 Session as one strategy to help improve water quality.
The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes the many requests for state funding that arise each year and our system of public education - K-12, technical institutes and universities - represents a top priority. The future of Sioux Falls and South Dakota depends on educating our citizens and developing our workforce to remain competitive on a regional, national and international scale. It is vital to foster an educational system that works in tandem with the business community and government to address and support workforce development initiatives. We look forward to evaluating any workforce development proposals that may arise during the Legislative Session.
To support our state´s citizens and to meet our workforce development needs, the Chamber supports the allocation of public monies to ensure funds for an equitable, effective and efficient system of pre-K-12, technical schools and higher education.
Leased Residential Housing Property Tax Classification: The Chamber supported creating a new class of property called "leased residential property" to facilitate the collection of data on this type of property to determine if property tax policy was negatively affecting the supply of competitively-priced housing for our state´s workforce. Recent proposals would not have, in any way, affected tax policy or revenues, but have been resisted and have lost. A similar proposal may emerge again and we encourage some action on this issue including the prospect for a compromise that would permit us to move forward rather than attempt to legislate change each year.
Bills that Discriminate: Recent sessions have witnessed bills dealing with transgender individuals and to permit businesses to deny serving certain individuals based on religious beliefs. The Chamber believes that these bills could have wide ranging negative impacts to our community and state in terms of lost business from organizations like the NCAA. We intend Sioux Falls to be a welcoming and supportive community and that needs to extend to the public policy we have on these types of issues. Practically, we will work to ensure that Sioux Falls´ projects itself as a welcoming community to attract workers and to maintain our ability to host tournaments, conventions, tours and events that may be compromised by this type of legislation.
Property & Business Owner Rights: We have seen in recent sessions bills introduced that put business and property owners at odds with gun advocates. Our Chamber believes in the right to gun ownership and the traditions of hunting and outdoor life so prominent in South Dakota. However, we have also maintained that property and business owners have the right to restrict gun possession on their property if they choose. This issue will likely resurface again in 2017 and we support the rights of property and business owners to restrict gun possession on their property.
Initiated Measure 22: The Chamber believes that this law has a significant negative impact on our state´s political system, economy, general fund, for-profit and non-profit businesses or organizations, political leaders, state legislators, other public officials and our Chamber. It also has a serious and negative impact on the average citizen being able to interact or communicate with their elected officials. We actively opposed the measure at the ballot box but it passed by a 51.6% to 48.4% margin. We continue to maintain that the voters were misled by the proponents of this effort as to the real impacts of IM 22. There is a widespread belief that some or all of IM 22 provisions are unconstitutional and it is being challenged in court. There are also discussions about fixes to a number of its provisions which might be submitted to the 2017 Legislature. We will consider those changes on a case-by-case basis.
Initiative and Referendum: Our Chamber believes that South Dakota´s longstanding tradition of allowing direct citizen access to the ballot through the initiative and referendum processes should remain. However, South Dakota finds itself in the position of allowing very broad access and relatively low signature requirements making our state an easy target for special interests who want to test issues. We would encourage a review of the rules and requirements surrounding constitutional and statutory ballot measures and support changes that address problems while preserving our tradition of access.