Noem changes course on grocery tax, commits to repealing it

Five weeks before the November election, Governor Kristi Noem is promising to repeal South Dakota’s grocery tax next legislative session if she is re-elected. Currently, South Dakota is just one of six states that taxes groceries at the full rate.
After seemingly opposing it as recently as March, Governor Kristi Noem is now promising to repeal the grocery tax next legislative session, if re-elected.
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 10:30 AM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Just nine months ago, Governor Kristi Noem was seemingly against removing the sales tax on groceries. But Wednesday, the incumbent governor, currently locked in a tough re-election bid, announced that she is now looking forward to working with state lawmakers next legislative session to eliminate the charge.

“One of my jobs in this state has always been to build stronger families, and to also fight federal government intrusion,” Noem said at a press conference in a Rapid City area grocery store. “We are taking action on that today.”

Noem said that the reason for her new push was because of the rising price consumers were paying at check out, citing the recent uptick on various different essential food items like eggs and milk.

Noem blamed President Joe Biden for the recent uptick.

“Across this country, we are seeing President Joe Biden’s failed extreme agenda driving up costs. Particularly because of the way he approaches business and regulations.”

But as recently as this past legislative session, Noem seemed to oppose efforts to remove the grocery tax.

That specific tax cut has been a long time priority of both Democrats and more conservative Republican lawmakers in Pierre. As recently as March, a proposed bill to repeal the grocery tax was defeated in the State Senate.

One of the state lawmakers who has been a long time proponent of repealing the tax is State Rep. Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls), Noem’s challenger for the governorship.

“It was interesting to see that she changed her stance on something five weeks before an election,” Smith said in an interview. “We have supported removing the grocery tax for years, that was being done ever before I got to the legislature.”

Noem’s campaign refuted claims that she opposed the grocery tax cut last legislative session, saying instead that she actually favored the cut. However, Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) told The Dakota Scout that Noem “came to his office adamantly opposed to it.” Noem’s campaign also denied that this happened.

Schoenbeck, a long-time opponent of the cut, also said that there would not be an appetite in the Senate to pass it next year either.

State Rep. Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids), who brought the bill to get rid of the grocery tax last session and has publicly called for it to be repealed since, says he is hopeful that it will get passed next year.

“I think it is great, I think we need to be putting families first,” Hansen said. “This is going to bring about significant tax relief for South Dakota families, so I think this is a good thing.”

Currently, South Dakota is one of only six states that impose taxes at the full rate, and one of three states that do not allow for any credit or rebate on the tax.

The 2023 state legislative session begins on January 10th.