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Senate changes taxes for townships, schools

USA, Columbia, Washington DC, Capitol Building

PIERRE — Township boards could use their current additional taxing capacity to pay emergency medical costs, while school boards could provide housing for certified teachers without paying property taxes, under measures that received final approval Monday by the South Dakota Senate.

The legislation heads next to Gov. Dennis Daugaard for review and possibly his approvals.

The Senate voted 34-1 for the townships bill, which Sen. Kris Langer, R-Dell Rapids, emphasized was "permissive language."

"This is not a new tax," she said. Sen. Gary Cammack, R-Union Center, agreed. "This is just to direct funds to wherever they're needed," he said.

As they spoke, Maynard Konechne, of Kimball, looked down from the rear of the Senate gallery. He is lobbyist for the South Dakota Emergency Medical Services Association.

HB 1076 specifically expands the additional annual tax that's now for fire protection to also be used for costs of emergency medical services. The House of Representatives approved it 66-1 on Jan. 30.

Tax-free housing for certified teachers received Senate approval 35-0. The House approved HB 1143 on a 47-19 vote Jan. 31 in the House.

Sen. Ryan Maher, R-Isabel, said the legislation resulted from an adverse ruling the Highmore-Harrold school district received last year regarding its rental property.

Maher said the ruling snared other school districts too. He said adding "certified teachers" would provide an exemption.

If districts rent properties to the general public, the properties would be subject to taxes, he said.

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