Midway through the legislative session, AARP South Dakota is making great progress on several bills. This week, we urged lawmakers in Pierre to support bills that fund affordable housing projects, increase access to health care, and ease taxes for low-income seniors.
Senate Bills 53 and 65 – Affordable Housing
Older adults overwhelmingly want to remain in their homes and communities as they age, but for many, the cost of doing so is increasingly challenging. For low-income households struggling to afford housing, they are too often forced to forego medical care, healthy food, and other necessities.
There are more than 1.7 million extremely low-income renter households with an older adult. These households typically spend more than half their income on rent and utilities.
On Tuesday, AARP South Dakota testified in support of Senate Bill (SB) 53 and SB 65, both address affordable housing. The bills passed unanimously (9-0) out of the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee this week, and we’ll keep fighting for them as they move through the legislature.
Combining regulatory reforms with direct subsidies to lower the cost of construction will incentivize developers to take on new affordable housing projects, which will improve many South Dakotans’ living conditions.
It is essential for the long-term health and financial security of all South Dakotans, particularly those 50 and older, that these bills pass.
Senate Bill 134 – Scope of Practice for Physician Assistants
AARP is fighting for a bill that will improve South Dakotan’s access to affordable health care in their communities by cutting through the red tape that prevents physician assistants from doing their jobs.
South Dakota’s more than 80,000 family caregivers, who help their older parents and spouses remain at home, count on the quality health care services provided to their loved ones by physician assistants. That’s why AARP South Dakota testified in favor of SB 134 on Wednesday – so caregivers and their loved ones can get the care they need, when and where they need it.
Physician assistants help care for older South Dakotans in their homes and communities, keeping them out of costly, taxpayer-funded nursing homes. Unless South Dakota modernizes outdated rules to let physician assistants do their job, South Dakota risks losing trained health care professionals to other states.
The bill passed out of the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee on a 4-3 vote and moves to the Senate floor for consideration.
House Bill 1014 – Property & Sales Taxes
With AARP South Dakota's support, House Bill 1014, which provides property and sales tax refunds to low-income seniors has passed through the House Appropriations Committee and goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Property taxes are the single most burdensome tax for low-income and older homeowners. 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.
We applaud the Governor and Legislature for supporting this program over the years.