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AARP AARP States South Dakota Advocacy

SD Legislative Session: Two Weeks to Go

South Dakota State Capitol in Winter

There are two weeks left in the 2023 South Dakota legislative session and AARP South Dakota’s work is not done!

Absentee Voting
This week, AARP South Dakota helped defeat House Bill (HB) 1217 on the floor of the House of Representatives.  A special thank you to our advocates that continued to reach out to members of the House and ask that this bill be defeated. Your efforts did not go unnoticed!

AARP South Dakota opposed HB 1217 because it would have reduced absentee voting from 46 to 30 days prior to our elections and modified the eligibility requirements to vote by absentee ballot.  AARP South Dakota feels the right to vote is among the most basic of all rights.

We opposed 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. Defeating HB 1217 is a win for South Dakota voters and our election process.

Adult Day Services
On Thursday, AARP South Dakota testified before the Joint Committee on Appropriations (JCA) in support of House Bill (HB) 1078. The bill appropriates $2 million to the Department of Human Services for the development and expansion of adult day services programs that serve adults living with dementia, or with symptoms in alignment with dementia.

With AARP South Dakota’s support, HB 1078 passed in JCA and moves to the House floor for consideration. Adult day programs can be an important contributor to allowing individuals to remain in their homes and communities, and evidence shows that older people who attend these centers have a better quality of life. Adult day services are also important in providing family caregivers a needed break from their caregiving duties, many of whom also may be juggling a job or other family responsibilities.

Increased adult day services provided through HB 1078 is one important step to allow individuals with dementia to remain in their homes and communities.

Medicaid Expansion
On Friday, AARP South Dakota testified in opposition of House Joint Resolution (HJR) 5004 in the Senate Health and Human Services committee. HJR 5004 was successfully defeated in committee on a 5-2 vote.

HJR 5004 asks the voters in the 2024 general election to amend the Constitution of the State of South Dakota and authorize the state to impose work requirements on certain individuals who are eligible for Medicaid expansion.  AARP South Dakota believes Medicaid beneficiaries should not be subject to work requirements. 

As you will recall, South Dakota voters approved Medicaid expansion via Amendment D during the November 2022 general election with 56% of the vote and there was no work requirement language.  Now, the legislature wants to ask voters to amend the Medicaid expansion language, and we don’t think it’s right. 

The vast majority of adults enrolled in Medicaid are working, caregiving, in school, or suffering from illness or disability. Work requirements have caused high rates of coverage loss among enrollees that should actually remain eligible due to confusing requirements and difficulty submitting documentation. Finally, we feel that work requirements do not lead to increased employment. Instead, they lead to coverage loss and financial hardship. Individuals age 50-64 will particularly be impacted negatively by HJR 5004.

There are still legislative processes that could give this measure consideration on the full Senate floor where, if approved, it would move to the November 2024 ballot. We will continue to watch what happens in Pierre.