AARP Eye Center
Following the celebration of President’s Day on Monday, the action in the legislature will be fast and furious for the next few weeks! Here are some highlights from the activity in Pierre this week:
Paid Family Leave Program
AARP South Dakota testified in favor of House Bill (HB) 1151 which would create a paid family leave program for state employees. HB 1151 passed in House State Affairs and was referred to the House Appropriations Committee where it was unfortunately defeated.
AARP South Dakota believes that comprehensive paid family leave legislation is needed so that workers can take care of themselves or a loved one when serious health needs arise while staying in the workforce and maintaining their economic security. Paid family leave is a critical lifeline for family caregivers. Across South Dakota, family caregivers help their older parents, spouses or other loved ones live independently at home.
HB 1151 would support family caregivers to better balance their job and family responsibilities, allow family caregivers to take time off to care for a loved one without fear of losing their pay and give more employees access to paid family leave. HB 1151 also would have been a benefit to workers, employers and the economy by helping family caregivers remain at their jobs. Paid family leave increases employee loyalty and retention—which often saves an employer money by avoiding separation costs, as well as the costs of recruiting, hiring, and training new workers.
AARP will continue to advocate for family caregivers.
Protecting Absentee Voting
AARP South Dakota testified in opposition of House Bill (HB) 1217 which reduces absentee voting from 46 to 30 days prior to our elections and modifies the eligibility requirements to vote by absentee ballot. Unfortunately, the bill barely passed out of the House Local Government committee on a 7-5 vote and heads to the House floor for consideration on Tuesday.
The right to vote is among the most basic of all rights. AARP South Dakota opposes HB 1217 because it adds unnecessary barriers that prevent older adults and people with disabilities from participating in elections. Voter participation can be significantly increased by practices such as early voting. HB 1217 will reduce voter participation.
It is the responsibility of policymakers to encourage and promote maximum participation in the electoral process. They should adopt voting procedures that expand the range of voting choices. If elected officials support HB 1217, they are voting to reduce the voting options in South Dakota.
Just three months after voters – including our senior population – utilized absentee voting in November, this bill has been brought forward to reduce the absentee voting period and modify the eligibility requirements to vote by absentee ballot…which goes against the actions of their constituents. It is irresponsible to think that South Dakotans want the absentee voting schedule altered just because the calendar has flipped over to 2023.
Keeping current law in place to allow for 46 days of early voting, rather than shortening that period makes sense, especially since the 2022 South Dakota elections were successful, safe and secure.
TAKE ACTION: The South Dakota House of Representatives will consider House Bill (HB) 1217 on Tuesday. Again, we oppose this bill because it adds unnecessary barriers that prevent older adults and people with disabilities from participating in elections. Please send a message to your representatives asking them to vote NO on HB 1217 to ensure that older voters can exercise their right to vote in the manner they choose, without facing unnecessary roadblocks.
Thank you for being an advocate!