Capitol DomeAs we near the halfway mark of the 2014 South Dakota legislative session, there continues to be many issues AARP South Dakota is following for you.

The deadline for filing legislative bills was this week and 447 bills have been filed for the 2014 session; which is around 50 fewer bills than last year.  Unless the bill is withdrawn by the bill’s primary sponsor (a new option this year), each bill will receive a legislative committee hearing; which means there will be a lot of committee activity over the next few weeks.

Following up on last week’s blog post, Senator Ernie Otten carried Senate Bill (SB) 23, the Attorney General’s consumer protection legislation, supported by AARP South Dakota, on the Senate floor on Tuesday afternoon and it passed in the Senate unanimously (35 yes votes/0 no votes).  SB 23 will now move over to the House of Representatives for committee consideration.

On Wednesday, Representative Jim Bolin carried House Bill (HB) 1113, the AARP South Dakota supported legislation that provides property and sales tax refunds to low income elderly and disabled South Dakotans, on the floor of the House of Representatives and it passed in the House unanimously (70 yes votes/0 no votes).  HB 1113 will now move over to the Senate for committee consideration.

This week, Governor Dennis Daugaard’s office introduced SB 186 which will revise electronic (on-line) driver license renewal requirements.  The bill allows for a an on-line driver’s license renewal without a vision affidavit once every 10 years for residents age 21-70.  South Dakotans age 70 and over will have to submit a vision affidavit with every on-line renewal.  This bill does not impact in-person driver’s license renewals.  AARP South Dakota has concerns about singling out South Dakota seniors and the potential cost burden for the driver who would need to seek a medical appointment for the vision affidavit. Ultimately, AARP South Dakota supports in-person renewals for all drivers at regular renewal intervals.  AARP South Dakota will continue to monitor this bill and keep you posted with any developments.

Governor Daugaard has announced he is asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow South Dakota to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for individuals up to 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).  The ACA calls for expansion to cover individuals up to 138% of the FPL.  AARP has concerns that the Governor’s request, if approved by HHS, would only cover 8,000 of the 48,000 eligible South Dakotan for coverage under Medicaid expansion.

Also this week, HB 1210, HB 1239, HB 1244, House Joint Resolution 1007 and Senate Joint Resolution 3 were introduced and all of these measures deal with Medicaid expansion.  Each provision has different language on how Medicaid expansion would be addressed in South Dakota.  The discussion on Medicaid expansion will continue throughout the 2014 legislative session.  AARP South Dakota will continue to advocate for Medicaid expansion and the 12,000 South Dakotans age 45-64 that it would impact by giving them access to health care coverage

The Question of the Week for you legislators is:
Which Medicaid expansion proposal do you support and why do you support it?   Share their repsonses with us!