First, a great big “THANK YOU” to the over 100 AARP South Dakota members that came to Pierre on Tuesday for the annual AARP South Dakota Lobby Day. We served lunch to nearly 60 legislators and got to talk to them about our issues and priorities.
With last year’s cancellation, it was great to see the “sea of red” again in the Capitol. Save the date – we’ll do it again on January 27th 2015, so mark your calendars!
AARP South Dakota has testified in favor of the following bills this week.
Senate Bill 23: The South Dakota Attorney General’s Consumer Protection legislation, which unanimously passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
What it does: The majority of the state’s consumer protection laws have not been updated since their inception in 1971. The biggest impact SB 23 will have is it will increase the crime classifications for deceptive acts from Class 2 misdemeanors to Class 1 misdemeanors if the person obtained under $1,000 from a consumer, a Class 6 felony (up to 2 years in jail) if that amount is over $1,000 but under $100,000, and a Class 5 felon (up to 5 years in jail) if over $100,000. Right now, the strongest penalty for a consumer fraud case is a Class 2 misdemeanor so these provisions put some teeth into the punishment.
Through AARP South Dakota’s recently launched Fraud Watch Network, we continue to hear stories of South Dakotans being scammed by individuals and groups specifically trying to make a quick buck on the backs of our state’s seniors and are working to support the Attorney General’s efforts to make our friends and neighbors aware of these deceptive acts. SB 23 is another big step in the ongoing efforts by government officials, business groups and consumer organizations to help protect our residents.
Senate Bill 44: SB 44 creates a $1 million provider revolving loan fund for nursing home facilities available through the South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS). This legislation is a recommendation of the South Dakota Long Term Care Task Force, which AARP South Dakota served on, and AARP South Dakota thanks Governor Daugaard and DSS for bring this bill to the legislature.
What it does: As we all know, nursing home facilities in South Dakota are aging and operate on tight budgets. SB 44 would provide a low interest loan to providers to fund capital improvements and equipment upgrades. AARP South Dakota feels nursing homes that utilize this program would provide a safer, healthier and happier environment for their residents and employees.
After taking testimony on SB 44, the Senate Appropriations Committee deferred action on the bill until later in the legislative session.
House Bill 1113: HB 1113 is a $450,000 budget appropriation to fund property and sales tax refunds for low income elderly and disabled South Dakotans. As in years past, AARP South Dakota proudly supports this legislation and continues to appreciate Govern Daugaard including this funding in his budget.
Property taxes are the single most burdensome tax for low-income and older homeowners. Many of our state’s elderly citizens have lived in their homes for generations. As their property values have appreciated, so have their property taxes. Furthermore, seniors often live on fixed incomes and cannot afford the yearly increases in their property taxes while also meeting their basic needs for food, medicine and utilities.
House Bill 1113 unanimously passed the House Appropriations Committee.
As you see your legislators in your community over the weekend, or when you join us at one of the upcoming Legislative Coffees in Sioux Falls, or cracker barrels in your own community, ask them our Question of the Week:
“What’s your position on SB 23?” Drop us an email with their answer at firstname.lastname@example.org.