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AARP AARP States South Dakota Advocacy

SD Legislature Week 8: The Final Countdown

South Dakota State Capitol in Winter

IMPORTANT NOTE: Next Tuesday morning, we will be sending out an action alert allowing you to thank South Dakota legislators for passing bills designed to improve long-term care services and supports in the state. With our other action alerts, we have asked legislators for a specific vote on a bill, so this will be a great opportunity to express appreciation for their service and for taking actions to help improve options for South Dakotans as they age.

The month of March is upon us, which means we are near the end of the 2024 South Dakota legislative session!

Medicaid Expansion Work Requirements Headed to the November Ballot
During Monday’s House State Affairs committee hearing, AARP South Dakota testified in opposition of Senate Joint Resolution 501 (SJR 501), which proposes to the voters during the November 2024 general election, an amendment to the Constitution of the State of South Dakota authorizing the state to impose work requirements on certain individuals who are eligible for Medicaid expansion.

Unfortunately, the committee passed SJR 501 on an 11-2 vote, and the bill passed in the House of Representatives on a 63-7 vote. SJR 501 had previously passed in the Senate. Because the Legislature does not need approval from the governor to place a measure on the ballot, the House vote was the final action, and the measure will be on the November ballot.

A Reminder of the History of Medicaid Expansion in South Dakota – and What’s Next

AARP South Dakota was part of the South Dakotans Decide Healthcare coalition that put Amendment D (Medicaid expansion) on the November 2022 ballot. This coalition was one of the largest groups of statewide organizations to ever come together around a ballot measure, and South Dakota voters overwhelmingly approved the initiative.

AARP South Dakota held multiple events for the 50-plus population across South Dakota throughout 2022 to educate voters on Amendment D. Part of our presentation explained that Medicaid expansion enrollees would have the same benefits and parameters as the traditional Medicaid population. At each presentation, we were asked about work requirements, and we explained that if work requirements were implemented on the traditional Medicaid program, they would apply to the expansion population. We also noted that a work requirement waiver had been submitted by the state to the federal government in 2018 and hadn’t been acted on - which remains the case.

Throughout 2022, the opponents of Medicaid expansion did not campaign against Amendment D by highlighting any concerns relating to work requirements.

SJR 501 isn’t as simple as it sounds, and voters will likely be asking questions like these regarding this resolution that can’t be answered.

  • How many people in the Medicaid expansion program will be impacted by a work requirement? That answer is unknown. Implementation of the program has only been in place for a little over 6 months and enrollment numbers will continue to grow and fluctuate.
  • That answer is unknown. As of last November, the Department of Social Services (DSS) informed the South Dakota Medicaid Advisory Committee that the department does not have an accurate way to track the employment status of the Medicaid expansion population.
  • What is the definition of “able bodied individuals” and will there be an exemption for a family caregiver related to SJR 501? That answer is unknown – and likely won’t be known before the November election.

A bigger problem South Dakotans age 50-64 continue to face is not having affordable, accessible healthcare through their employer, which puts them in the Medicaid expansion population. With South Dakota’s unemployment rate under 2%, if our legislature is truly concerned about the Medicaid expansion population addressing this issue should be a top priority.
By passing SJR 501, our South Dakota legislature is telling voters, specifically the 50-plus voters who always show up for elections, that they didn’t know what they were voting for in 2022. A similar resolution failed in the 2023 session only months after Amendment D passed and well before Medicaid expansion was even implemented. This argument is unfair to the voters who cast their ballots in 2022 and ignores the expertise and efforts of the coalition of South Dakota organizations that supported Amendment D and that continue to support Medicaid expansion implementation as directed by South Dakota voters.

AARP South Dakota will continue to advocate that our lawmakers honor the will of the people, and we will continue to oppose SJR 501 all the way through November!

Senate Bill 89 – Lease Terminations
AARP South Dakota testified against Senate Bill 89 (SB 89), which would reduce the notice requirement period to terminate a tenancy at will to 15 days. Unfortunately, SB 89 passed in the House Commerce and Energy Committee on a 9-3 vote and on the floor of the House of Representatives on a 41-29 vote. The bill had already passed in the Senate, so it now moves to the Governor for her consideration.

One of the most important aspects of a lease is the notice requirement. This outlines the amount of notice that a landlord must give a tenant before terminating the tenancy. Providing adequate notice requirements, such as 30 days, not only provides appropriate time for the tenant to find an alternative housing arrangement, but it also makes the lease less contentious – which is helpful for both the tenant and landlord.

Giving proper notice (30 days) is a business standard for termination and decreasing the notice period to 15 days will lead to more people and families without housing and lead to homelessness. According to an AARP/Statista analysis of census data available from the United States Census Bureau, more than 1,100 people will experience homelessness in the state of South Dakota in 2024, and more than 7,100 people are expected to be evicted in the state of South Dakota in 2024.

SB 89 will exacerbate the lack of housing options for the citizens of the state.

As the 2024 Legislative Session comes to a close, there will be a 2-week break before legislators return to Pierre for “veto day” on March 25. AARP South Dakota will send a final legislative wrap-up at the end of March, so stay tuned!

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