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Introducing the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry

An Overview of the Chamber’s Value Proposition

Bad laws are a threat to your business.  They can increase costs through higher taxes or time spent dealing with obscure regulations that can seem to be unrelated to public safety. 

South Dakota doesn’t have unreasonably high taxes or burdensome regulations.

The South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry deserves some of the credit for this.

The Chamber was formed to be an advocate and act as a watchdog for statewide issues ranging from legislation to ballot measures.  Recent significant actions led by the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry include:

During the 2018 General Election.  The South Dakota Chamber led the No on Amendment W (W is Wrong) Campaign to defeat an amendment that would have created a non-elected tribunal to operate outside of the three branches of government, added eight pages (designed to supersede existing sections) to the State’s Constitution and could have subjected public employees such as teachers and law enforcement to harassment.  Despite being outspent more than three to one, under the leadership of State Chamber President David Owen, the Campaign’s effort resulted in a defeat with 55% of voters casting a NO vote.

In 2016, the Chamber led the campaign against equipment operator unions from Minneapolis and Chicago that spent $870,000 on ballot measure IM-23 which, if passed, would have made it legal for unions to charge non-union members an “agency fee” (usually 75% of dues).  The Chamber raised money, conducted debates and produced the ads against IM-23.  The result?  IM-23 was defeated by 79% voting NO.

We know how to organize a campaign, do the message polling to see what arguments truly reach voters and build coalitions to reach the public and win elections.   

Legislative Session –  Each year, the South Dakota Chamber monitors legislation for bills that pose a threat to our members and to the overall business climate of the state.  We are present every day to lobby for our members.  When important issues are discussed at the Department level, the Chamber is at the table, bringing a respected voice to the conversations.

School Property Tax Levies – The State Legislature sets local school general fund and special education tax levies.  School general fund levies are the only property taxes where businesses pay more than homeowners, who in turn pay more than farmers/ranchers.  The Chamber keeps an eye on school levies to avoid having business pick up an unfair cost of education.  The Chamber was the first business group to inquire about the increase in the special education levy, now the subject of a legislative summer study. 

Here are the general fund and special education levy rates for both 2018 and 2019:

Class Property             General Fund              Special Ed Taxes        Total                 $/ % Increase

Agriculture                 $753/ $756                  $730/ $783                  $1,484/ 1,539      $55/ 4%

Homeowner                $1,686/ $1,691            $730/ $783                  $2,416/ 2,474      $58/ 2.4%

Commercial                $3,493/ $3,500            $730/ $783                  $4,224/ 4,284     $60/ 1.4%

Capitol-ism Newsletter – Each week during the legislative session members receive one or two issues of a newsletter titled “Capitol-ism” which gives analysis of key issues in a way that members can apply to their business or updates as key bills move through the process.

Here is a list of the Chamber’s expertise used during each and every day of each and every legislative session.

The 2020 Legislative Session considered nearly 500 bills over the course of 37 days.  How many of these bills affected your business?  Do you know?

· When were those bills heard in front of a committee?

· When were they voted on by the full Senate/House?

· Is it possible to kill bills in a committee? 

· Can a bill be saved that has been tabled in committee?

· How and when does someone testify at a committee hearing? 

· How do you know when testifying is a good idea?  

· When can you talk to legislators about how a proposed law affects your business?

The South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry knows the answer to these questions. 

We know how the legislature works.  This is just one value of the dollars you give for membership support.  Someone is watching your back, someone who knows danger when they see it and what can be done about it.

The Chamber knows stuff that you simply don’t have time to learn.


Other Programs and Activites


Giant Vision Entrepreneurship CompetitionThis annual competition is a partnership with the Governor's Office and GOED and includes both a new business and a student competition.  2020 was the 16th year for the event.  Top prize for business is $20,000 and for students is $5,000.

Annual Economic Outlook Seminar.  Held in Sioux Falls each year, this two hour seminar features an economic analysis of the region from a leading economist and industry leaders discussing trends and innovations in their businesses. The 2020 event focused on the impact of COVID-19 to the economy and small businesses.

Business Day at the Legislature.  Each February, State Chamber members and members of local chambers of commerce come to Pierre to meet legislators, the Governor’s cabinet members and key staff people.  During Business Day, the Chamber conducts its “Business Caucus” during which attendees answer questions about the issues before the legislature using their cell phones and see the results displayed immediately on a giant screen.  The results of Business Caucus are shared with legislators the next day and are of the most anticipated surveys taken during session.

Summary.  The South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry has a multifaceted approach to keeping South Dakota an investment worthy state.  Full time representation at the legislature (hired lobbyists cost up to $20,000/issue); ballot measure campaigns (management fees exceed $30,000); bulletins with analysis and updates (private service subscriptions can cost several hundred dollars); plus, programs to teach business to students, help emerging entrepreneurs and a gathering to analyze the region’s economy.    

The membership dollars needed from each member of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry represent a small investment compared to the costs of the services purchased individually.  Please call Mary Anne Boyd at 1-877-817-8215 (or email maryanneb@sdchamber.biz) and set up a meeting with Chamber President David Owen to explore in detail how the work of the State Chamber can benefit your business.

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