I had a great discussion with Craig Dewey, host of The Facts on KCPO TV, which airs today.
We talked about the upcoming legiative session, my new position on the Judiciary committee, and various issues that will be decided this year. We spent considerable time discussing the proposed $100 million tax increase for highway funding.
Proponents of the plan say that if we don’t fix our roads and bridges now, costs of repair will escalate in the future and we will need even more funds over the long term. Also, fuel taxes per mile driven have actually declined over time creating a shortfall in available funds.
On the one hand, many believe that infastructure is the most basic function of government. And, if it ends up being true that investing $1 now will mitigate $3-$5 of costs in the future, a conservative approach would direct resources towards roads today to ensure resource availability for other areas tomorrow.
But it’s also important to consider this proposal in a broader context. The Governor announced in his budget address that sales tax revenues came in below estimates, signs that the Fed’s money printing and phony stimulus bubble is showing signs of bursting. This would be the largest tax increase in South Dakota history, at a time when our national debt, inflation, and economic situation have gotten even more dangerous and I am predicting will see another severe correction in 2015.
As far as the specifics of the proposal, there are a few concerning points that jump out immediately. I am opposed to the wholesale (hidden) tax increase that switches from cents per gallon to a percentage basis. It creates volatility, automatic gas tax increases when gas prices rise and consumers are already hurting, and places a unnecessary burdens on businesses to upgrade or replace their software systems. Also, if we are going to continue to lean toward user fees as a better way to fund government, I believe our structure should better reflect that heavy trucks may, according to one study, do up to 99% of the damage to roads, while paying around a third of the revenue.
When I was elected to the legislature, my goal was to empower the people. Like many I have met in our district, I am not satisfied with the political legislative process where entrenched special interest groups, represented by high-power lobbyists and lawyers, are able to pass or preserve laws that benefit a select few at the expense of the people. In most cases, the people are unaware of the protectionist laws that increase your cost of business, reduce your choices, or fund an old program that has been made obsolete by technology.
These laws and programs are nearly impossible to repeal, and new ones are added every year at your expense. Why don’t enough legislators say no to laws that benefit lobbyist-backed groups, but harm the people? First, the benefit to the special interest group is substantial, but the harm to each individual person is small. For example, a law that costs the average South Dakotan $20/year in higher prices could create an economic windfall for a group of 1,000 specialists to the tune of $16,000 each!
Dogs bite. Also, you should never slap a lion in the face. Why? Read on!
This week the House had on its agenda SB 75, which would require that city ordinances regarding dog ownership apply to all dogs, and not single out a specific breed.
We all want safe neighborhoods, and most everyone agrees habitually bad owners should be banned from having any dogs, but the evidence presented to me in committee showed that breed-neutral ordinances will encourage public safety and prevent good dog owners from being unfairly targeted because someone misidentified their dog’s breed, or a bad owner across town had a similar breed of dog.
While pit bulls have gained a reputation for being tenacious and powerful, there are some compelling reasons why we should pause before we strip away the property rights of our upstanding neighbors Continue Reading »
Last week, SB 46 passed unanimously through the South Dakota Senate. It is a bill that would make it a felony to “intentionally, willfully, and maliciously inflict gross physical abuse on an animal that causes prolonged pain, that causes serious physical injury, or that results in the death of the animal.”
Imagine discovering that it was actually a veterinarian who regularly ripped the heads off of puppies and crushed their skulls. It would be hard to decide whether to call the police or to deal with the veterinarian yourself.
Now suppose you discovered that doctors regularly ripped the heads off of babies and tore apart their limbs while they were still alive. What would you do? Now is the time to decide, because here is evidence of this happening. Continue Reading »
There has been a lot of misinformation about common core education standards, and understandably parents are becoming more interested and concerned about the direction we are moving with education in South Dakota. I think the increased awareness and parental involvement is fantastic. Some are believe that this is an effort by state educators to give up local control of education or to adopt curriculum that is contrary to the values of South Dakotans.
But what I have learned as I have spoken to superintendents and the state department of education is that they have their own reasons for adopting the common core standards which have little to do with the decades-long march to nationalize education standards, textbooks, tests, and methods for all 50 states. The proponents of nationalized education system are very vocal about this agenda, but local educators do not believe adopting these standards equates to endorsing this goal or losing local control. Personally, I disagree. These standards were adopted without parental involvement, which was a huge mistake. We are naive if we do not wake up and realize the common core “carrot” is simply leading us down a path of nationalization that ends with a big, ugly stick.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Pierre, SD – Representative Isaac Latterell (R-Sioux Falls) has filed House Joint Resolution 1005, calling for an Article V convention of the States for the limited purpose of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution which would impose fiscal restraints on the Federal Government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the Federal Government, and limit the terms of office for Federal officials and members of Congress.
“I have always believed that the solutions to America’s problems will come from the people, not from Washington,” said Rep. Latterell. “Fortunately, the authors of the Constitution gave us the power to fix Washington without the approval of Congress or the President, who will never vote to limit their own power. I am excited to see that as so many South Dakotans rise up to join this effort, their optimism for America rises also, as we finally work together on a solution as big as the problem.” Continue Reading »
This year, I continue to serve on the Taxation Committee and Local Government committees. Bills dealing with these subjects are first read on the House floor and then are referred to the respective committee, which operates much like a school board or city council meeting. The sponsor and proponents come forward to describe the bill and persuade us why the law should be changed, and then opponents come forward and make their case against it. We then move on to questions, committee discussion, and action.
If the bill does not receive a favorable vote of the majority of the members on the committee, the bill is usually considered dead. But if it passes the committee, we send it to the House floor with a “Do Pass” recommendation, where it is debated again and every member of the house gets a chance to vote on it.
Both Rep. Herman Otten and I serve on the Local Government committee, and last week we heard House Bill 1087, which would allow Rural Fire Protection Districts to Continue Reading »
My youngest sister, Eva, just turned 12 this past December 31st. Each year, my parents invite friends and family over to celebrate the new year and the birth of our favorite family member at our New Years “Eva” party. Now I know, we aren’t supposed to have favorites, and our large family would seem to make unanimous consent impossible.
Maybe it’s because she’s the baby of the family. But there is something special about Eva, qualities she possesses that I believe truly make her a superior human being. First, she has an extra dose of Continue Reading »
When Governor Daugaard gave the annual State of the State address last week, he highlighted several benchmarks which demonstrate the advantage of having economic policies based on reality. What do I mean by reality? I’ll tell you in a bit, followed by some ways we are in danger of ignoring reality. But first, some highlights.
South Dakota’s unemployment rate is the second lowest in the nation at 3.6%, and we have added enough jobs in the past years to exceed our recession losses by 2.5%. We’ve been named the #1 State for business by CNBC, and we have the highest personal income growth in the nation. One study of photos posted on the internet even found that South Dakotans smiled more than any other state!
South Dakotans recognize economic reality. Our state has a balanced budget, meaning we don’t put any of our regular expenses on the credit card, and we haven’t increased the tax rates on the economy in order to do so. If we would have increased the sales tax by “1 penny” as the last election’s ballot measure proposed, that would have been a significant drain on economic growth, and a state tax increase of 25%.
But there is another constraint that reality places on South Dakota, and rightly so: Continue Reading »