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Tax breaks for wind projects saved as 3 vetoes overturned

The overrides included a bill that gave large wind energy projects in excess of $500 million in tax refunds not available to other industries. Rounds vetoed the bill in part because it singled out the wind energy industry ..."If we have an incentive program for economic development, I think it is important to have a program that is available across the board rather than picking winners and losers among industries."

PIERRE - South Dakota lawmakers voted Monday to override three vetoes issued by Gov. Mike Rounds, restoring tax breaks for wind projects, helping some college students and extending the lease for a Black Hills theater.

Three other vetoes will stand after lawmakers failed to muster two-thirds majorities to override them.

The overrides included a bill that gave large wind energy projects in excess of $500 million in tax refunds not available to other industries. Rounds vetoed the bill in part because it singled out the wind energy industry for special treatment under the state's tax laws.

"If we have an incentive program for economic development, I think it is important to have a program that is available across the board rather than picking winners and losers among industries," the governor said in his veto message.

Lawmakers during the session revamped the sales tax refunds available for large business projects that exceed $10 million. Part of the overhaul included placing a cap of $500 million on refunds. Once a project exceeded that cap, its additional costs no longer would be eligible for a refund.
Lawmakers wanted wind energy projects exempted from the cap to help make South Dakota... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

PIERRE - South Dakota lawmakers voted Monday to override three vetoes issued by Gov. Mike Rounds, restoring tax breaks for wind projects, helping some college students and extending the lease for a Black Hills theater.

Three other vetoes will stand after lawmakers failed to muster two-thirds majorities to override them.

The overrides included a bill that gave large wind energy projects in excess of $500 million in tax refunds not available to other industries. Rounds vetoed the bill in part because it singled out the wind energy industry for special treatment under the state's tax laws.

"If we have an incentive program for economic development, I think it is important to have a program that is available across the board rather than picking winners and losers among industries," the governor said in his veto message.

Lawmakers during the session revamped the sales tax refunds available for large business projects that exceed $10 million. Part of the overhaul included placing a cap of $500 million on refunds. Once a project exceeded that cap, its additional costs no longer would be eligible for a refund.
Lawmakers wanted wind energy projects exempted from the cap to help make South Dakota competitive with other states. Sen. Bob Gray, R-Pierre, said there are some large projects worth more than $500 million on the drawing board.

"We do need to have a good tax climate to have those wind projects," he said.

Lawmakers voted to override the governor's veto of a bill that established a scholarship fund for South Dakota college and technical students based on financial need. The state, legislators noted, is the only one without such a program.

Rounds vetoed the bill last week because it didn't include a funding source. He later withdrew his opposition after supporters said they were seeking private donations that could be used to match federal dollars for need-based scholarships.

Lawmakers also voted to override a veto of a bill that sought to give the board of the Black Hills Playhouse more time on its lease while the group tries to address funding shortfalls and problems with the facility. Under the bill, the playhouse board has until Sept. 30, 2012, to get the facility back on track.

The Senate voted to override a bill that established more requirements for educating children who are deaf or hard of hearing, but the effort failed in the House. Rounds vetoed the bill in part because it went beyond federal requirements.

Rep. Manny Steele, R-Sioux Falls, said the bill gives students who are deaf or hard of hearing the education that state law requires and the education they deserve.

"A lot of our laws go beyond federal law, and in many cases should," Steele said.

Rep. Bill Thompson, D-Sioux Falls, urged his colleagues to vote their conscience.

"Those are our constituents," he said. "Those are our children."
The Senate failed to override Rounds' veto of a bill that sought to give insurance policyholders compensation for injuries and damages ahead of insurance companies. Although Rounds, an insurance company owner, agreed that changes should be made, he argued in his veto message that the bill went too far the other way, putting insurance companies at the end of the line when there's a chance for them to recover some losses in honoring a policy.

Sen. Nancy Turbak Berry, D-Watertown, argued that many people with severe injuries are not compensated because their insurance companies are first in line when it comes to recouping money from an insurance policy held by a person who caused the injuries.

"Folks, we are not here to do the insurance industry's work," Turbak Berry said. "This chamber does not belong to insurance companies. It is the people's work. It is the people's chamber."

Sen. Dave Knudson, R-Sioux Falls, urged his colleagues to leave the system unchanged. Changing it, he warned, could lead to higher insurance premiums.

The vote fell three shy of overriding Rounds' veto.

Lawmakers also failed to override the veto of a bill to make it legal to buy and shoot fireworks through the Christmas and New Year's holidays.


Source: http://www.argusleader.com/...

MAR 30 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/25429-tax-breaks-for-wind-projects-saved-as-3-vetoes-overturned
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