SD State Legislature Candidate Survey: John Mills
VOLGA, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - State Rep. John Mills (R-Volga) is running for re-election in the South Dakota State House in District 8. He currently faces two primary challengers; Lecia Summerer and Tim Reisch.
1. Tell us about yourself?
I am a 67 year old South Dakota native. I have been married to my wife, Joy, for 42 years. We live on a farm near Volga where we raised our 2 kids. They are grown now, married, live nearby and have blessed us with 6 grandkids J . I have made a living in construction, real estate development, property management and from our farm.
2. Why are you running for office?
I ran 6 years ago as a service commitment to the great state that blessed me. I want my grandkids and all South Dakota’s children to have all of the freedom and every opportunity that this nation and state gave to me. Freedom takes defenders – on the battlefield and in the legislature. It has been a privilege to serve District 4 in the South Dakota House the past six years. With re-districting I am seeking re-election in the legislative district my farm is now in - District 8.
3. What would be your top 3 priorities if elected?
1. Defense is job one. Our freedom, liberty, faith and our free market opportunities are always under attack by those who wish to turn us into a socialist nation/state. I start first each day with defense.
2. Smaller government. Serving for 6 years I continue to be amazed with how big our government is. Washington DC has sent myriads of programs out to the states. We need to push back against government growth and look for ways to reduce red tape and downsize the bureaucracy.
3. Strengthening and empowering families. The family is the nucleus of society, of South Dakota and our nation. I support legislation that makes families stronger. Education choice and lower taxes are two things that give families more control, more opportunity and more resources to help them succeed.
4. What relevant experience would you bring to the office?
I am in my 6th year in the legislature. I have served on several House committees including Commerce and Energy, Taxation, Transportation (chair) and Appropriations. While this service is important and very helpful, I consider my Christian faith and my business experience as my greatest assets. Having been on the receiving end of always expanding government rules, regulations and taxes makes me push back against bad ideas and new taxes.
5. Do you support tax relief for South Dakotans? If so, what types and how would you make that happen?
Yes. I have voted multiple times for tax relief. In the 2022 session I voted for the sales tax to roll back to 4% (as the law requires once internet purchases are taxed – which they are). I also voted for the removal of the state sales tax on food. Both of these bills passed the House, but were killed in the liberal leaning Senate.
6. Housing availability has become an issue for many South Dakotans. How would you seek to make housing more affordable?
I helped write and was a co-sponsor of HCR 6002 during the 2022 session. That resolution passed both legislative chambers with strong support. It outlines that the free market system combined with an “active reduction in governmental burden” is the “most effective solution to meet the need for affordable and workforce housing . . .”. Government at all levels should be looking to reduce taxes, eliminate or lower fees, remove unnecessary red tape and approvals and consider alternative design standards for housing infrastructure. On a state level, the 2% excise tax the state imposes should be placed on a moratorium at least until the situation improves.
7. South Dakota Correctional; facilities have been dealing with a number of issues, most prominent among them are overcrowding and staff shortages. What would you do to help combat these issues?
Through interim legislative committees, the legislature will be studying the criminal justice system this summer and fall in a holistic way. We need every idea now because we will live with the solutions that get implemented for decades to come. I will bring my experience as a building contractor, my experience serving on a jail expansion committee for Brookings County and my working knowledge as a member of the Appropriations Committee into play as each idea is vetted next session.
8. What steps should the legislature take to entice young people to remain in the state?
For targeted areas of critical need (rural health care is one example) we have used programs that pay or reimburse tuition as an incentive to stay - with some success. There may be other areas where this model could be applied as well.
9. Do you support any changes to the way elections are run in South Dakota?
We do a pretty good job with our elections in South Dakota. I supported legislation (HB1300) this past session that would have required municipal and school elections to coincide with either the June Primary or November general election. I think that would be a good change to increase voter participation.
10. A US Supreme Court decision is looming on a landmark abortion case that could ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade. Governor Noem has indicated she would like to ban abortion outright, and a “trigger law” already on the books would do so, with the only exception in place when the mother’s life is at risk. Do you support banning abortion to this extent? If not, what exceptions would you like to see made?
I believe that life begins at conception and therefore do support the current law that is ready to be enacted if Roe is overturned.
11. What is your stance on legalized marijuana in South Dakota?
I do not think legalizing recreational marijuana would be good for South Dakota. Colorado’s experience shows that doing so increases traffic fatalities and brings numerous other negative consequences.
State legislative candidates in contested districts this primary season were emailed the same survey to complete for Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory News. Candidates were asked to keep their responses limited to roughly 4-5 sentences for each question. With the exception of a quick spelling and grammar check, answers were not edited by the poster. Those who responded to the survey questions had their results posted.
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