Relieving property tax pressure

County government is required by state law to provide for critical local government needs, including law enforcement, courthouses, jails, and infrastructure like roads & bridges. 

Today, however, they have only one funding source with which to meet these obligations: Property taxes. On top of this, property taxes are also required to cover a large portion of their local school district’s budget. 

With the increasing costs for schools, roads, and law enforcement, it is easy to see why property owners feel squeezed from every direction. I have introduced HB 1230 as one potential solution. This bill would dedicate a small portion of the state sales tax revenue from each county to a fund that could be utilized by counties solely for infrastructure projects, and reduce the need for them to add additional levies on property owners to repair roads, buildings, or build a jail. 

Not all the expenses incurred by county government are related to the residents actually living in the county, especially when it comes to law enforcement and roads. My proposal seeks to recognize that by taking a very small portion of the sales tax revenue and dedicating it to a fund that can be used by the counties to meet their infrastructure and law enforcement obligations. 

It would divert 0.05% of state sales tax revenue to the fund, and grow to 0.25% over a five-year period. This would reduce the state government’s overall tax revenue slightly, instead dedicating it to infrastructure projects at a local level. The county would then have the option, by a majority vote of the commission, to access these funds for an infrastructure project. That decision would be referable by the voters in the county if they did not feel the project was appropriate.  If a county did not currently have a need for projects, they could leave the money in the fund for it to be invested and grow until a future date. 

Revenues are a little higher than expected this year, so I felt this was a good year to consider an out-of-the-box solution that would reduce pressure on property tax payers and help counties meet their obligations. Ultimately the Legislature will have to consider all the competing uses of sales tax revenues and decide their priorities. The bill had a hearing last week in the Taxation Committee, and sent by unanimous vote to the Appropriations Committee to be considered alongside other revenue and spending bills. 

I would like to hear your thoughts on this bill or any other solutions you have for local property tax. Please contact me on my website, www.drewdennert.com

Legislative Update

It was a productive week in Pierre! More bills hit the floor and the pace will only continue to pick up in the house. It did feel great to be home for a few days with Ashton and Tracy but next week will be a busy one.

The House of Representatives is the people’s house. I believe the people should have the final say in who represents them. After all, our state motto is “Under God the people rule.”

My first piece of legislation reflects just this. Technically speaking, it isn’t a bill, it’s a Joint Resolution. If it passes the legislature, it is submitted to the voters for approval and will be on the ballot in 2022.

Government should be of, by, and for the people–and I believe strongly that the people should choose their own representation. The vision for my resolution is to take the power to fill legislative vacancies from the Governor’s office and give it to the local citizens.

In the current system, when a legislator leaves office before the end of their term, the Governor’s office puts out a press release and asks for public input and nominations. Some of those nominations are interviewed by the Governor’s staff and eventually an appointment is made.

My change intends to allow the local central committee, who are elected by their community members, to come together to make this selection. The new legislator would still be from the same party as the resigning legislator, which is not the case today.

While I believe this change is important, it isn’t radical. Today, only a handful of states still have legislative vacancies filled by the Governor. The rest use a local process to fill the vacancy. The central committee and voters already contribute to the process.

I just want you, the people of District 3, to be the final decision maker. I believe that you and your neighbors are the best judges to make the decision. My resolution will be heard Monday in committee.

I hope everyone has a blessed week! As always, you can reach me at Drew Dennert for House on Facebook.

Thank you and God bless,

Drew Dennert

AAVI Building funding bill passes committee

The Aberdeen Area Veterans (AAVI) building passed through the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee unanimously. Rep. Carl Perry and I testified on its behalf and I am excited to stand up for this important legislation.

It’s important that we give heroes who sacrifice so much for us the support they need, and the AAVI building is a good step in that direction. The total cost of the project will be $5.2 million. As currently proposed, slightly over half of the project will be funded locally by gifts and sponsorships.

Senate Bill 84 would appropriate $2.5 million toward the project and after its passage in Veterans Affairs, the next step will be a hearing in the Joint Appropriations committee.

The AAVI building will fill a void in our community. 5,000 veterans call Brown County their home, and while the VFW, American Legion, and other veteran organizations are very active, they do not have a building dedicated to veterans. It will also benefit veterans in Clark, Day, Edmunds, Marshall, McPherson and other area counties.

One major obstacle to connecting veterans to the benefits and help they need is making them aware they’re eligible. The AAVI will help solve this problem by creating a one stop shop where veterans can get the support they need like mental health treatment, job training, education opportunities, and much more.

The AAVI will also house offices for veteran organizations, serve as a meeting place for veterans to gather, and promote resources to treat unseen wounds and mental health disorders.

In the coming weeks, our committee hearings and House floor calendar will start filling up with many more bills. I would love to have the chance to discuss these issues with you before they come before us.

If you are able, please join me and other area legislators at the Cracker Barrell this Saturday January 30th, 10:00 AM at the Johnson Fine Arts Center in Aberdeen.

Weekly Roundup: State of the State

Friends, as we begin the first week of the 2021 session, I want to thank you again for trusting me to represent our values and our community in Pierre. We have a lot to accomplish, and I’m excited to see what we can get done!

2020 was one of the hardest years we have experienced in a long time. Some have lost family members, friends, livelihoods, and so much more. While COVID-19 still dominates headlines, there are reasons for optimism. South Dakota leads the nation in giving our citizens the first dose of the Coronavirus vaccine. I expect that to continue over the next several months as we fight to return to a more normal way of life.

Governor Noem highlighted this and other progress in her state of the state address and touched on several of her priorities for the session, including helping foster children find homes, expanding access to apprenticeships, improving education, and developing our workforce.

We also heard from Chief Justice Steven Jensen and Standing Rock Tribal Chair Mike Faith, as they addressed the state of the judiciary and state of the tribes, respectively.

Because of our decision to keep our economy open, we will go into this session without the budget crisis affecting many other states. In fact, we will be starting session with a budget surplus. This is important, because in such a difficult environment for families and small businesses, the last thing we need is a big tax increase to further burden our workers and businesses. Instead, this surplus will make it easier to give inflationary salary increases to teachers, nursing home staff,and state employees. Our teachers, care providers, and others have shown up when we needed them the most, and I will be making that pay raise a priority.

As always, I am working hard to ensure that our home, South Dakota, is the best place in the country to raise a family, start a business, experience the great outdoors, and enjoy our God given freedom.

This session I will be serving as Chairman of the House Taxation committee, as well as serving on House Education. I look forward to representing Brown County on these committees, ensuring that our children receive a quality education and keeping our taxes low.

I welcome all citizen input and will do my best to respond to all inquiries. Please reach out to my Facebook page—Drew Dennert for State House.

Rep. Drew Dennert

Rep. Drew Dennert announces bid for re-election

Rep. Drew Dennert announced his candidacy for re-election for District 3 House of Representatives.

“It has been a great honor to serve District 3 and the residents of Brown county and I hope to continue serving South Dakota in the State Legislature. If re-elected I will continue to prioritize our agriculture industry, education funding, job growth, and an environment where small businesses and our citizens can thrive.”

Some of Dennert’s legislative accomplishments include passing legislation that he was the prime sponsor of including:

  • HB 1204 from 2019. This legislation helped simplify tax laws for young people under the age of 18 when entering the small business field.
  • HB 1092 from 2019. In an effort to increase transparency and accountability in state government HB 1092 increased the number of financial reports that legislative candidates are required to file.
  • SB 128 from 2019. 128 added an appropriation that aimed to replace some of the funds that were swept from the South Dakota bred horse racing fund.

Other accomplishments include his continued support of Northern State University, boosting funding levels for nursing homes and community service providers. As well as supporting various bills aimed at improving habitat in South Dakota that will help to bolster hunting and fishing opportunities for resident sportsmen and sportswomen.

During Dennert’s time in the legislature he has been a member on the Transportation and State Affairs committees as well as House Taxation where he has served as Vice Chair for the past two years.
Rep. Dennert is a husband, father and a sixth generation resident of Brown county. He resides in Aberdeen with his wife Ashton and son Tracy. Dennert is a part owner and operator on the family farm in the Columbia area.

Uncovering The Real Agenda Behind Ballot Measures

Last year South Dakotans cast their vote for a near record breaking 10 ballot measures, nearly beating the modern record set in 2006 of 11 measures in an election.

Next year we may be poised to beat the 2006 ballot measure record, as 20 measures have been submitted for review and several have been approved for circulation. But before any of these measures can make it to the ballot, they must collect enough valid signatures from South Dakota voters before the November 6th deadline.

Like every election, most ballot measures have good intentions but some may have unintended consequences that voters should consider before signing off on to put them on the ballot – or vote them in. Something I know all too well from personal experience.

In 2015, I remember being approached by a petition circulator who asked if I would be willing to sign his petition for Marsy’s Law. I asked him to explain what the measure would do and after his explanation that the measure would guarantee equal rights for victims in the judicial process, I made the decision to sign it.

But soon after signing the petition, I did some research of my own and learned that the measure was sponsored by an out-of-state group and that measure could have significant costs for local taxpayers, which the measure’s sponsors wouldn’t have to bear. It quickly became apparent to me that it wasn’t as simple as the circulator had explained; and whether or not it was a good decision to sign it – I was disappointed in myself for not taking the time to evaluate the issue and make an informed decision beforehand.

Many of the upcoming 2018 election ballot measures sound good on the surface, but by digging a little deeper, you may find they carry some unintended consequences. That’s why I plan to ask questions and slow down this year when approached to sign another ballot measure petition.

Petition circulators are great salesman and know how to do their job quickly and effectively, but some simple questions may get some answers to give pause before signing.

A great question is to ask whether the measure’s sponsor is from South Dakota or not. Out of state groups commonly want to have their cake and eat it too – by pushing their agendas while never facing the unintended consequences they may have. I want to know the people that came up with the law, whether good or bad, will have to live under it just like you and me if it passes.

Often these out-of-state groups hire professional circulators to get the required number of signatures to get their issue on our ballot. That’s why it’s worth asking the petition circulator whether they are being paid or are a volunteer – it’s the difference between doing a job or believing in a cause.

And finally ask to read the Attorney General’s explanation of the measure, which is on the back of every petition in its entirety. It’s worth reading, if not just to make sure that the circulator isn’t selling you a bill of goods.

South Dakota is the birthplace of the ballot measure process, leading the country in this vital tool, and we should all participate. But we should do so informed and confidently in our decision, because we’re the ones that have to live with our choices.

2018 Re-Election Announcement

With Representative Kaiser announcing last week that he would not seek re-election to run for Brown County Sheriff, I wanted to take the opportunity to let everyone know that my intentions next year will be to run for re-election!

In the past year I have been blessed to be in the State House and to represent the people of Brown County. I have learned some valuable lessons and how important standing up for your core values are and how important it is to work with people who both agree with you or sometimes disagree with you.

And while my conservative values are what gave me the passion to run in the first place, continuing to fight for the conservative cause is what encourages me to keep fighting.

We have done a lot right in South Dakota but the more involved I get the more I realize that we truly have a lot of work to do. Whether it’s taxes, government corruption, constitutional rights, the right to life, education, helping to improve our economy or any other issue, we need more people involved who will vigilantly fight for liberty and for the values we all believe in.

I hope that over the next year you will do your part to become more active in our political process and learn more about the candidates running and the issues that we support.

Also in an effort to help voters learn more about me, I have setup this website and encourage you to visit frequently as I will continue to update it.

Please check it out, and I appreciate all the support I have received from the community of Aberdeen!