AARP AARP States South Dakota Advocacy

High-Speed Internet Access and Remote Witnessing Bills Await Governor’s Signature

South Dakota State Capitol in Winter

South Dakota’s short legislative session is already nearly over. The last day for bills or resolutions to pass both houses, including the state budget, is March 7. The Governor will have until March 28 to sign or veto legislation.

AARP South Dakota continues to urge our elected officials to enact policies and prioritize funding for programs that support South Dakotans age 50 and older.

Simplify Process to Update Voter Information
AARP South Dakota fully supports changes that make it easier for older voters to participate in elections.

South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett and AARP South Dakota both testified last week in support of straightforward election procedures proposed in Senate Bill (SB) 69. This bill would have allowed registered voters to update information like their address or party affiliation easily on a secure website managed by the Secretary of State.

AARP South Dakota fully supports changes that make it easier for older voters to participate in elections. After passing through the South Dakota Senate, unfortunately, SB 69 was defeated on a 10-3 vote in the House State Affairs committee.

Despite the defeat, we thank the volunteers and activists that took the time to contact their lawmakers and urged them to vote yes on this important bill. Our work is not done, we will keep fighting to make voting procedures in South Dakota as simple, safe and accessible as possible.

Older man and woman use a laptop computer on the sofa.

Improve Access to Affordable High-Speed Internet
AARP is fighting for South Dakotans to have access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet that’s available in the communities where they live. Eight in ten (80%) South Dakota voters age 50 and older strongly or somewhat agree that elected officials in South Dakota should work to ensure that high speed internet service is available to underserved areas. 

This week, with AARP South Dakota’s support, a $50 million appropriation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to expand broadband infrastructure across the state has passed in the House Appropriations Committee and in the House of Representatives.

For too many South Dakotans, especially for those that live in rural areas, the high-speed internet they need to access opportunity and succeed in today’s economy is not available where they live—and this holds them back.

Particularly as the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic continue, without access to high-speed internet, communities suffer. They lose out on opportunities for people to learn, find jobs, stay healthy and for local businesses to prosper.

telephone survey conducted last year found widespread, bipartisan support among 50+ voters for policies aimed at increasing access and reliability across the state, including expanding availability through rural electric cooperatives (83 percent), offering incentives to providers (79 percent) and developing public/private partnerships (75 percent).

After previously passing through the Senate, SB 55 will now go to the Governor’s desk for her signature.

Two women sitting near one another at a table using laptop computer

Virtual Estate Planning, Wills & Powers of Attorney
On Wednesday, AARP South Dakota supported a bill that would give family caregivers and other kinds of legal guardians the flexibility to manage documents for estate planning, wills, and health care powers of attorney electronically with remote witnessing.

We know that minimizing face-to-face interactions is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It’s more important than ever that South Dakota provides safe and comfortable ways to execute planning documents.

Currently, South Dakota has no provisions for remote witnessing. After previously passing through the Senate, the bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee and on the floor of the House of Representatives. SB 107 now heads to the Governor’s desk for her signature.