SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Rep. Phil Jensen, R-Rapid City, announced Tuesday his call for the South Dakota State Legislature to gather again on Nov. 3 to reconsider a repeal of the state sales tax on food. Joined by seven other South Dakota lawmakers, Jensen thinks the timing is good following Gov. Kristi Noem’s earlier announcement that she supports repealing the grocery tax. The tax cut promise indicates a shift for Noem who has said in past opposition to the tax cut that repealing the grocery tax would complicate raising teacher and state worker salaries.
The governor has the authority to call a special session. In the alternative, two-thirds of each chamber of the state’s bicameral Legislature may also call a reconvention. Rep. Jensen said in a press release, “Noem made a public statement that she was committed to repeal the sales tax on groceries. Now, a handful of state officials are calling to make the repeal of sales tax immediate.”
In the spring 2022 legislative session, SB 117, which aimed to repeal the state sales tax on food while allowing authorities to maintain some control over local sales tax, was denied in the State Senate by Jensen and his fellow House Republicans hoghoused late in the Session into the food tax repeal that Noem opposed at the time.
However, in recent months, consumers have seen a rise in inflation, gas prices, and food prices. According to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee’s State Inflation Tracker, monthly household expenditures in South Dakota have increased by roughly $740 between January 2021 and August 2022.
“As we moved through the spring and into the summer, we saw a continuous rise in inflation, gas prices, and food prices,” Jensen said in the news release. “Consequently, a large number of people who are on fixed incomes and low earned wages, continued to get squeezed into unfortunate financial situations.”
He added, “South Dakota is in a great financial position. Still, we need to remember that it’s not the role of government to hold onto the people’s money but rather to provide them with the necessities of a limited government.”
Jensen said his call for a special session is supported by Republican Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller, Reps. Taffy Howard, Tony Randolph, Kevin Jensen, Steve Haugaard and Aarson Aylward and Senator-elect Tom Pischke.