February 3, 2012 Capitol-ism

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South Dakota Chamber Of Commerce - Capitol-ism E-Newsletter

February 3, 2012

As you read more details of this session, remember that the Declaration of Independence mentions the "pursuit" of happiness.  It says nothing about achieving it.


"Stop Shooting . . . Hold Your Ire!"

HB 1132 - Prohibit businesses and employers from establishing certain policies against the ability of an invitee or employee to store firearms and ammunition in a locked motor vehicle parked on the premises.

Many Chamber members have adopted policies that prohibit employees from bringing firearms and ammunition to work, not even to the parking lot and not even if they are locked in the car. The goal is to protect employees and the rule is applied equally to all employees. When it comes to guns, don't bring them.

HB 1132 would prohibit any business from adopting that policy. For proponents it's about the second amendment and the right to bear arms. To the Chamber, along with the South Dakota Retailers Association and many other associations, it's about property rights and employee protection. Employers have learned a brutal lesson when it comes to guns and the workplace, it's never a "problem," it's usually a total disaster and tragedy.

The clash of property rights against the right to bear arms resulted in a massive loss for property rights, and why not, the other guys have guns and know how to use them. Capitol-ism hopes the margin of victory that this bill experienced in both committee (10 yes to 2 no) or on the floor (49 yes and 15 no with 6 excused and presumed to be in the parking lot of the Capitol checking their firearms) isn't a demonstration of a low regard for property rights or the idea that business owners (our members) shouldn't do everything possible to protect employees.


Why is this issue so lopsided? All joking about guns aside, and making sure to clearly state that the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry respects second amendment rights and is certainly not "anti-firearm", it is clear that the lobbying tactics of the National Rifle Association are driving this vote. The NRA has been a leading voice advocating gun owner rights for decades. Their expertise in the political arena deserves respect, it is their tactics that deserve denunciation.

Anyone having lobbied a state legislature, or even Congress, has heard numerous examples of legislators' voting for NRA positions 100% for years only to disagree on one issue and have post cards sent to every constituent denouncing them as "anti-gun". This happened to at least one legislator in South Dakota after the 2010 session when the NRA wasn't even involved in the bill. An attitude of "all or nothing" and a willingness to rough up their own supporters, renders the NRA very powerful - albeit through fear. The NRA is very actively involved in this issue.


Capitol-ism encourages members to discuss this bill with members of the Senate and to speak clearly about the importance of protecting employees. The Chamber is always willing to deliver faxes to the mail boxes of legislators - yes that word was faxes, it is amazing how low tech can stand out in the digital world.


Here is the vote on HB 1132.

HB 1132, House, Do Pass Amended

Abdallah

Yea

Blake

Nay

Bolin

Yea

Boomgarden

Yea

Brunner

Yea

Carson

Yea

Conzet

Yea

Cronin

Yea

Deelstra

Yea

Dennert

Nay

Dryden

Yea

Elliott

Excused

Fargen

Nay

Feickert

Nay

Feinstein

Nay

Gibson

Excused

Gosch

Yea

Greenfield

Yea

Haggar

Yea

Hansen (Jon)

Yea

Hawley

Nay

Hickey

Yea

Hoffman

Yea

Hubbel

Yea

Hunhoff (Bernie)

Nay

Hunt

Yea

Iron Cloud III

Nay

Jensen

Yea

Jones

Nay

Killer

Nay

Kirkeby

Yea

Kirschman

Nay

Kloucek

Yea

Kopp

Yea

Liss

Yea

Lucas

Nay

Lust

Yea

Magstadt

Yea

Miller

Yea

Moser

Yea

Munsterman

Excused

Nelson (Stace)

Yea

Novstrup (David)

Nay

Olson (Betty)

Excused

Perry

Yea

Romkema

Yea

Rozum

Yea

Russell

Yea

Schaefer

Yea

Schrempp

Yea

Scott

Yea

Sigdestad

Nay

Sly

Yea

Solum

Yea

Steele

Yea

Street

Excused

Stricherz

Yea

Tornow

Yea

Tulson

Yea

Turbiville

Yea

Van Gerpen

Yea

Vanneman

Excused

Venner

Yea

Verchio

Yea

White

Yea

Wick

Yea

Willadsen

Yea

Wink

Yea

Wismer

Nay

Rausch

Yea

 

Ayes

49

Nays

15

Excused

6

Absent

0




Bankruptcy Exemptions Could Increase

HB 1146 - Increase the personal property and annuity payments exempt from process, levy or sale.


The right to file bankruptcy is a fundamental right and when one studies policies that are key to economies that experience growth, bankruptcy is important to that growth. It is important to let people have a formal way to face it when they have hit a dead end, paid off what is possible and want to get on their feet to be productive citizens again. The days of Ebenezer Scrooge sneering "Are there no prisons, are there no work camps?" are long gone. Today, the process of bankruptcy is well-developed with rules and procedures. It remains arduous but is well-established.


This process must balance getting debts paid with allowing the bankrupt enough assets to provide for themselves and to have a viable chance to start anew. The question is what should they get to keep? HB 1146 seeks to update this law to match inflation and economic realities. Key among the changes are:

- Definition of vehicles. Here is the language. "Interests in vehicles, not to exceed ten thousand dollars, per debtor." It has been pointed out that the term "vehicles" is different than the term "cars" and might set the stage for bankrupt people keeping a wide variety of transportation.

- Change in personal property.
Increasing the amount from six thousand dollars to ten thousand dollars (for those who have avoided the "head of family" honor, the increase is larger - from four thousand to ten thousand.)

- Income from annuities.
The most significant increase is in protected income from an annuity. Current law allows annuity income up to $250/month. The new law's "'update" would seem to outstrip inflation with a new limit of $2,500/month. That is an inflation rate not seen since Germany between the wars.
Update: The Chamber joined several other associations representing financial institutions to oppose this bill. This law has not been updated since the mid 1990s and it could be time for an update. A law that is updated should still be recognizable as a version of the original.  This one may not be recognizable by its best friend.

The House Taxation Committee voted to defer HB 1146 to the 41st legislative day, which will effectively kill the bill.



MANUFACTURERS ALERT!!!

Another Dealership Bill to Deal With


HB 1227 - Revise certain provisions with regard to the rights of industrial and construction equipment dealers.

Readers who can remember that there was a legislative session last year, and didn't need special medication to cope, may recall that the Chamber spent a considerable amount of time helping to defeat HB 1108, which would have placed severe restrictions on the relationship between manufacturers of industrial and construction equipment and their dealers. It was a dynamic and dramatic issue. It doesn't deserve to have a Broadway-like revival.


HB 1227 is NOT a repeal of last year's bill. It does attempt to place several regulations on the relationship between industrial and construction equipment manufacturers and their dealers. Auto dealers and truck dealers have similar protections in many states, including South Dakota. These laws pass to even the playing field between local businesses and large international businesses that manufacture the products sold by the dealership. These manufacturers often have expensive requirements for parts inventory and special computer programs.


There is a frustration when discussing construction and industrial equipment manufacturers, unlike autos and trucks, construction and industrial equipment is actually manufactured in South Dakota. There are at least six manufacturers that could be part of these laws. These manufacturers employ more than 600 people in the state at jobs that have high pay and full benefits.


Caution Urged. This year's bill does not include some of the most onerous language from last year's bill. HB 1227 appears to be predominately a bill directing lawsuits to use South Dakota courts (venue) and making it easier for dealerships to recover legal costs if they prevail on other issues. The Chamber simply does not endorse having the state control or intrude into business relationships.

The work on this issue begins. Members who are interested in or affected by this type of law are encouraged to contact the Chamber by using the "Reply" function of this email.


Minimum Wage Returns

HB 1221 - Increase the minimum wage and to provide for annual adjustments in the minimum wage equivalent to the consumer price index.

This bill would increase the minimum wage to $8/hour. In doing this, it separates South Dakota's minimum wage from the federal minimum wage. The Chamber has consistently advocated keeping the two linked, including the recent increases imposed by the federal government. The Chamber will oppose HB 1221 for these very reasons. There's more.


In a new twist, HB 1221 would also increase the minimum wage each year by an Average Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers. It would seem that keeping up with inflation in a rural state is not sufficient. For reasons not disclosed, this bill suggests South Dakota's minimum wage keep up with inflation in urban areas.  It is amazing how many ways there are to measure cost of living and the Chamber just hopes that the price of kids' video games never becomes the standard. The whole economy wouldn't make it six months.


As always, thanks for supporting the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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