A bill making South Dakota’s tourism surtax permanent has sailed to passage in the state House of Representatives today, heading over to the Senate looking like a “runaway train.”
Just one day after the House Bill 1066 passed out of committee, the full House approved the measure 64-4.
With a large supportive contingent in the House galleries, a series of House members spoke in favor of the measure. Two drew applause for announcing they had switched from opposition to support.
“In the last 24 hours… every question and concern that I raised yesterday in committee has been addressed,” said Rep. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, the lone no vote on HB 1066 on Thursday.
HB 1066 would keep the state’s tourism tax, applied to visitor-related industries such as motels and spectator events in the summer months, at 1.5 percent. If the Legislature doesn’t act, that tax will fall to 1 percent in July.
The roughly $3.3 million the tax raises funds tourism promotion as well as arts, architecture and the state history museum.
Rep. Hal Wick, R-Sioux Falls, said he’s known as an opponent of higher taxes. But he said HB 1066 easily earns his support.
“I support the continuation of this tax because it provides economic expansion,” he said.
Supporters of the bill say the $2.1 million in annual tourism promotion the bill provides brings in many times that in visitor spending and state and local taxes from those tourists.
Even the only speech in opposition, from Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, supported spending the money on tourism promotion. Nelson argued the half-penny tax should be allowed to expire and the money should instead come from the general fund.
Rep. David Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, said the measure was looking like a “runaway train,” and it now heads to the Senate in the aftermath of its nearly unopposed blitz through the House.