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Guest Blog: South Dakota Legislative Update for Week 3


Week three of the South Dakota Legislature is in the books. This was the first week where there was a significant amount of activity as committee agendas started to fill up and floor calendars started to get longer.

The deadline to file bills passed this week and when the final tally was done, there were 274 House bills and 195 Senate bills introduced for a total of 469 pieces of legislation. This is about equal to what we have seen, in terms of bills, for the past several years. Over the past several years, we have seen a reduction in the number of bills introduced. Some of that is due to tight budgets on the state level (ie. less money tends to equal status quo). Some of it is due to term limits—as you have more legislators who are new to the process, they tend to introduce fewer bills.

Most of the activity in the 2012 session for communications providers will center around SB 174. This bill will bring about some substantive changes to the 911 surcharge and the 911 system as a whole. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Corey Brown (R-Gettysburg), would do several things including:

    • An increase in the 911 surcharge for traditional wireline and wireless customers from $0.75/month/line to $1.25/month/line. Of the $0.50 increase, the first 10-12 cents would go to all PSAPs. The next 13-15 cents would go to PSAPs that meet all standards that are currently set forth by the state 911 board. The last 25 cents would be used to pay costs associated with transitioning the current 911 system to a next generation 911 system.
    • Prepaid wireless customers would be assessed a 2% surcharge on all prepaid wireless transactions at the point of sale. This is a major change from current law and will force any South Dakota retailer that sells prepaid wireless devices and service to collect and remit the 911 surcharge. The retailer will remit the surcharge to the state Dept of Revenue.
    • As a way to assist retailers to pay for the cost of transitioning their accounting software, each retailer that sells prepaid wireless service will be allowed to keep the first three months of surcharge collections. After three months, the retailer will have to remit to DOR.
    • All entities that currently collect 911 surcharges (SDTA members, CenturyLink, Midco, the wireless companies, etc.) will also remit surcharges to the state Dept of Revenue instead of the local governmental entity. Remittance will also be done monthly instead of quarterly.

There are a number of different parties that have an interest in this bill including local governments, telecom providers, retailers, law enforcement, 911 center operators, and medical professionals (ie. doctors, hospitals, nurses, EMS providers, etc.). The bill has been assigned to the Senate State Affairs committee but no hearing date has been set.

Greg Dean
Director of Industry Relations
South Dakota Telecommunications Association