Week 2 of the 2017 South Dakota legislative session is in the books and, as always, there is already a lot going on in Pierre.
On Wednesday, the House Retirement Laws Committee debated four bills being proposed by the South Dakota Retirement System (SDRS).
House Bill (HB) 1016 revises the methodology for calculating the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for SDRS benefits. This bill says if the SDRS if fully funded, the COLA payable is equal to the change of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) with a minimum of 0.5% and a maximum of 3.5%. If the SDRS is not fully funded, a restricted COLA maximum is calculated that results in SDRS being fully funded. HB 1016 does not lower any benefit, provides a flexible design that will allow sustainability and allows SDRS to adjust to volatility in the market. HB 1016 passed unanimously out of committee.
House Bill (HB) 1017 clarifies and tightens language relating to the inclusions and exclusions of the SDRS definition of compensation and provides a penalty for falsely reporting compensation to SDRS. This bill also will no longer require a small group of employees that have been on SDRS since before July 1, 1996 to pay on benefits that they do not receive. HB 1017 passed unanimously out of committee.
House Bill (HB) 1018 revises how final average compensation (FAC) is calculated for benefits relating to SDRS. The FAC is now averaged over a 3 year period and HB 1018 will change the FAC to a 5 year average. This bill also provides a transition period for current SDRS members near retirement. This bill passed unanimously out of committee.
House Bill (HB) 1019 revises certain provisions relating to the salary of the executive director of the SDRS and passed unanimously out of committee.
AARP South Dakota has researched and studied all 4 of the SDRS bills. We’ve also consulted with SDRS and other groups and organizations impacted by these bills. At this time, AARP South Dakota is neither for nor against these bills but will continue to monitor them for our members during the 2017 legislative session.
On Thursday, the House Health and Human Services (HHS) committee considered HB 1004 which establishes a program to assist nursing and assisted living facilities in recruiting registered nurses (RN), licensed practical nurses (LPN), nurse aides or medication aides. AARP South Dakota didn’t take a position on this bill during the committee hearing but feels states should create incentives that encourage providers to hire as many permanent workers as possible. Extensive use of temporary workers is a disincentive to staff recruitment and retention and can lead to poor quality of care. HHS referred this bill to the appropriations committee without recommendation.
We are excited to begin next week by bringing over 150 advocates from across the state to our annual Lobby Day on Tuesday, January 24. Even if you aren't in Pierre, you can be an advocate for AARP by attending legislative coffees in your community and asking your legislators about the issues most important to South Dakota's 50 plus.
The AARP South Dakota Question of the Week for your legislators is:
What are the most important healthcare issues that need to be addressed during the 2017 South Dakota legislative session?