Week seven is a busy and important week each year in the SD legislature. It is the final week for a bill to pass out of the committee in it's chamber of origin. This means a bill has to have been given a favorable recommendation in the first committee so it can be heard on the chamber floor before crossover day. "Crossover Day" is Monday, and marks the last opportunity for a bill originating in the House to move to the Senate, and vice versa. If a bill has not crossed over to the other chamber by the end of the day on Monday, it is considered dead.
A number of the bills AARP SD is following have already crossed over to the second chamber. Therefore, there was little action on these bills as the legislators worked to meet the crossover deadline for other bills.
However, as we have in previous years, AARP SD testified in support of House Bill (HB) 1256, a bill which appropriates $450,000 for property tax refunds for elderly and disabled individuals who meet certain income eligibility criteria. HB 1256 was also supported by the Governor's office.
The bill was deferred by the committee so it could explore the possibility of tying the income criteria to a federal index. This would help account for changes in the federal poverty levels and remove the need for annual review. Once more information is available, the committee will revisit the bill.
As the issue bills continue to work through the legislative process, the state's budget is coming more into focus. The Joint Appropriations committee adopted revenue estimates for Funding Year (FY) 19 and FY 20. These estimates help the legislature understand how much money will be available for ongoing expenses and one time projects. At this time, the revenue projections anticipate that the state will have $3.6 million in one time revenue and nearly $5.5 million in ongoing revenue above what Governor Noem has proposed in her FY 2020 budget. This means there are additional dollars for the legislature to direct to its priorities.
One of the priorities that the legislature is hoping to address in the coming years is nursing home reimbursement rates. There are many conversations happening among legislators hoping to better support our nursing homes in SD. The legislature is also hoping to provide additional dollars to medical providers that would help keep healthcare accessible in our rural communities.
Next week will start the beginning of the end at the Capitol. Following crossover day, there are only 11 days of session left to address the remaining priorities. After the 2019 SD legislative session, AARP SD will turn it's full attention to important federal policy issues. This week, we took some time to address on of our most important federal priorities: prescription drugs.
On Wednesday, AARP SD met with representatives from SD Senator John Thune's office to discuss the dangerously high cost of prescription drugs in our country. We asked Senator Thune to hold drug companies accountable during the Senate Finance Committee hearing next Tuesday. AARP believes the drug industry needs to be people over profits and we are looking for personal stories to help us humanize this important issue. If you or someone you love has been affect by high prescription drug costs, please share your story here.