PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Another attempt to levy a 5% tax on lithium mined from South Dakota has failed again.
Adding a tax requires 24 ayes in the state Senate. The lithium legislation, HB1043, received only 21 on Monday.
Republican Sen. Randy Deibert had first tried to pass it on Thursday. It had failed that afternoon, 23-9.
Republican Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller was excused from that vote. The hope was that, come Monday, she would provide the 24th yes.
It looked that way for a while on Monday afternoon, when she announced, “Believe it or not, this is actually something I’m going to vote yes for.”
However, three other Republican senators — Tom Pischke, Jim Stalzer and David Wheeler –switched sides, from yes to no on the reconsideration vote. None stood during the debate to explain why. Their reversals weren’t known until each responded during the roll call.
However, Republican Sen. David Johnson gave a possible reason during his remarks opposing the tax.
Johnson noted that the House had removed wording in the original bill’s title that called it “a new tax.” He said House members had realized that if the bill passed both chambers and got to the second floor — Governor Kristi Noem’s office — it would be headed to “the circular file,” meaning a veto, because she promised no new taxes.
Republican Sen. Steve Kolbeck said the legislation wasn’t creating a new tax. “We’re adding lithium to an existing code of statute,” he said.
But Republican Sen. Brent Hoffman, who would vote no, said that, factually, “Lithium is not a precious metal or mineral.” Yet the legislation attempted to group lithium with gold and silver as precious metals.
That, he said, was like calling a cat a dog.
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