Noem says she will not call special session on grocery tax cut

After changing course on the grocery tax at a campaign event last month, Governor Kristi Noem says that she is not willing to commit to a special session on the topic.
Governor Kristi Noem says that there is not enough votes in the state legislature to support a grocery tax cut.
Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 10:36 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Governor Kristi Noem says that there is not enough votes in the state legislature to support a grocery tax cut, despite a recent push by Republican state lawmakers and her Democratic opponent Jamie Smith to hold a special session on the topic.

Speaking at a campaign event at Sunshine Foods in Sioux Falls Wednesday, Noem suggested that the proposal did not have enough support to pass through the legislature and be enacted immediately, meaning she did not intend to call for one.

During the 2022 regular session, the State Senate killed an effort to repeal the grocery tax.

“If the legislators support this, it is a wonderful thing,” Noem explained at an event promoting her plan to cut the grocery tax on Wednesday. “But they need a two-thirds vote to pass this with an emergency clause, to make sure it goes into effect right away. And I am not convinced we have those right now.”

The issue has become central to both campaigns in the final weeks of what has become a tighter election than expected. Noem changed course on the issue last month, after opposing the tax cut in March.

Since then, Noem’s campaign has been running ads promoting her support for the measure. Noem has blamed inflation at the grocery store on President Joe Biden, and by extension, Jamie Smith. Smith has favored repealing the tax throughout his legislative career.

During a press conference less than an hour before Noem’s event Wednesday, Smith accused the Governor of playing politics with the cut.

“People’s priorities should always come before politics. There is no priority more important than making sure the citizens of our state have enough to eat,” Smith said. “As your governor, I promise to focus on South Dakota, it’s people, and those who live here.”

A proposal by Republican state lawmakers suggested holding the special session to enact the tax cut on November 3rd, just five days before the general election.

Smith said he is willing to have the special session on that date, even if it could hurt him electorally.

“We can get a win for the people of South Dakota, and ultimately that is what we are working for, the people of South Dakota,” Smith explained. “So we should put the politics of this election aside, and do what is right for the people.”

In order to trigger a special session, the Governor can either call for one, or two-thirds of each chamber can sign on and agree to have one. The same two-thirds margin would be required to enact a grocery tax cut immediately.