February 17, 2014

South Dakota Lawmakers About to Pull Plug on Llittle-Used Renewable-Energy Tax Break

The House Taxation Committee gave its blessing Thursday to taking away a seldom-used tax break that was meant to encourage renewable energy production.

The irony was the committee’s chairman, Rep. Brock Greenfield, became a little less relevant. He shepherded the law to passage in 2002.

For Greenfield, R-Clark, the law’s original passage was a substantial victory 12 years ago. Then-Gov. Bill Janklow fought against adding tax loopholes.

The tax break was used just once, for a wind-power project. More lucrative incentives for energy projects became available through other state programs.

So the state Revenue Department wants to repeal it.

The committee’s 13-0 vote favoring repeal sends the measure, SB 55, to the full House of Representatives for consideration and possible final passage as early as today.

The Senate has approved the repeal 35-0.

At the House hearing Thursday, Greenfield asked revenue official Alison Jares whether in her research she had found who originally sponsored the law.

She said no.

He said, “I do.”

Greenfield said it was one of the rare pieces of legislation in recent decades that a governor let become law without his signature.

“We pushed as far as we could without that veto,” said Greenfield, who was a 26-year-old senator in his first term in 2002. 

The last question was who would explain the repeal legislation to the full House.

“I might ask somebody else to shoot my dog,” Greenfield said.

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