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AARP AARP States South Dakota Advocacy

SD Legislature Week 4: At The Halfway Mark

Group of 70 men and women in red AARP South Dakota vests gathered for a photo in the South Dakota Capitol Rotunda.

As we enter February and near the halfway point of session, the pace in Pierre is moving even faster. The deadline for introducing bills was Wednesday (January 31). All totaled, the legislature will consider over 525 bills, resolutions and commemorations.

Senate Bill 28
With AARP South Dakota's testimony and support, Senate Bill 28 (SB 28), which provides property and sales tax refunds to low-income seniors, has passed unanimously through the Joint Committee on Appropriations, heads to the House and Senate for approval and will make its way to the Governor’s desk for signature.

Property taxes are the single most burdensome tax for low-income and older homeowners. Many of our state's elderly citizens have lived in their homes for generations. As their property values have appreciated, so have their property taxes. Furthermore, older adults often live on fixed incomes and cannot afford the yearly increases in their property taxes while meeting their basic needs for food, medicine and utilities.

We applaud the Governor and Legislature for supporting this program over the years.

House Bill 1099
On Thursday, AARP South Dakota testified in favor of House Bill 1099 (HB1099) during the House Health and Human Services committee meeting. With AARP South Dakota’s support, HB 1099 moves to the House floor for consideration.

HB 1099 modernizes the scope of practice for optometrists to allow them to do in-office procedures consistent with their training and education. The procedures allowable under this bill include limited laser procedures to treat glaucoma and cataracts and injections around the eye to allow the optometrist to remove skin tags or small lesions around the eye.

This bill does not allow optometrists to perform Lasik or cataract surgeries or inject directly into the eye. Those procedures are appropriately done by an ophthalmologist in a surgery setting. The bill does allow an optometrist to perform the necessary follow-up procedures for these surgeries in the patient’s local optometry office.

As the population of South Dakota ages, we expect to see more patients with glaucoma and cataracts. These conditions are natural progressions of aging. This bill allows an appropriately trained workforce to be available to manage and treat these diseases in a setting that is optimal for the patient.

By allowing optometrists with the required training and education to perform these procedures in their offices, patients have greater access to the right level of care, by the right level of provider in the right setting. This provides optimal access to care for patients and allocates the resources of our healthcare system in the most productive way.

Lobby Day Recap
On Tuesday, January 30, more than 70 volunteer advocates from around the state attended Lobby Day in Pierre. They were highly visible in the Capitol halls decked out in red AARP South Dakota vests! This annual Lobby Day event provides volunteers with the opportunity to chat one-on-one with lawmakers and represent South Dakotans 50-plus and their families.

South Dakota Governor and Lieutenant Governor with seven representatives from AARP South Dakota standing on the Capitol Rotunda steps in Pierre.

The day started with early arrivers getting to watch AARP State Advocacy Director Erik Nelson’s testimony on Senate Bill 28 (see update above). We served a delicious lunch of ribs and fixings for legislators and Capitol staff, and then volunteers had the chance to watch part of the afternoon proceedings in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

We appreciate the time of Governor Noem and Lt. Governor Rhoden, who visited with members of our volunteer Executive Council, as well as Attorney General Marty Jackley who joined our group for a photo in the Rotunda.

If you weren’t able to join us in Pierre this week, there’s always next year! We’ll announce Lobby Day 2025 in December. Check out our Lobby Day 2024 photo album on our Facebook page!

Connect with Lawmakers at Legislative Cracker Barrels
Another great way for you to make your voice heard, along with sending emails or making phone calls, is to attend local legislative coffees or "cracker barrel" sessions held on the weekends when legislators are back in their home districts. We have compiled information on some locations that have already announced upcoming cracker barrel sessions. Is your community hosting a cracker barrel event? Email us the information at and we will update our list.

Please reach out if you have any questions or feedback during this legislative session:
Phone: 605-350-6348

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