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AARP AARP States South Dakota Advocacy

SD Legislature Week 6 – Exploring Guardianship Statutes and Voting Procedures


As the President’s Day holiday approaches, the action in the legislature will be fast and furious for the next few weeks!

House Bill 1230
AARP South Dakota testified in favor of House Bill 1230 (HB 1230) to amend provisions regarding reports to be done for a guardianship or conservatorship. Unfortunately, HB 1230 was defeated on an 8-4 vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

HB 1230 would have mandated the use of existing guardianship forms. These forms can help direct the format of the guardianship information and ensure someone has actually considered a topic regarding guardianship. When people prepare their own reports without the forms, they may not actually refer to South Dakota guardianship statute, or if they do, may interpret it differently than the court system would.

While the outcome of the bill is disappointing, this bill has started a conversation about a thorough review of guardianship statutes after the 2024 legislative session concludes and may lead to a stronger bill during the 2025 legislative session.

Guardianship allows someone to make legal decisions for another person. A court appoints a guardian upon finding that an individual cannot manage their own affairs. Adults placed under guardianship may lose their basic civil liberties. These can include making decisions about where to live, how to spend money and what medical treatment to receive. It may also affect the right to vote or marry. Thus, guardianships should be an option of last resort.

Usually, state courts appoint family members as guardians. Courts have sometimes found it difficult to find family members or friends able and willing to serve as guardians. As a result, states have a significant need for public guardians and other surrogate decision-making services. After a guardian has been appointed, state courts monitor the guardian’s performance. They must ensure that individuals under guardianship are cared for appropriately. Most guardians perform their duties properly. However, there have been instances of abuse, mismanagement of funds, conflicts of interest or a combination of these.

AARP South Dakota believes state policymakers should create clear guardianship procedures. This includes providing all guardians with educational support and training. States should protect the due process rights of people under guardianship. States should establish and adequately fund public guardianship programs, and they should put in place standards to protect people under guardianship from abuse.

House Bill 1241
AARP South Dakota also testified in favor of House Bill 1241 (HB 1241), which modifies the amount of time allowed to an employee to vote for any election in this state. Unfortunately, the bill failed in the House State Affairs Committee on a 12-0 vote.

HB 1241 would have allowed an employee four (4) consecutive hours away from work to go vote on election day if the employee’s work shift didn’t have a 4-hour window for the employee to go vote. Currently, South Dakota requires employers to give employees two (2) hours to go vote on election day. The bill would have particularly helped employees who commute to work from long distances and work 24-hour shifts on election day.

The right to vote is among the most basic of all rights. Voter participation can be significantly increased by practices outlined in HB 1241. It is the responsibility of policymakers to encourage and promote maximum participation in the electoral process. They should adopt voting procedures that expand the range of voting choices.

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.

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