The bitter cold hit much of SD, but Pierre is heating up! Despite it being a holiday week, AARP SD was busy taking steps to help expand access to human, health and disaster resources across our state.
On Wednesday, AARP South Dakota testified in support of Senate Bill (SB) 8 which expands the '2-1-1' telephone referral system to a statewide resource information system. This bill is a recommendation from the 2018 Mental Health Services legislative summer study.
The 211 Helpline Center provides crisis assistance by assessing a callers needs and matching their needs to available resources in the 211 database. They provide direct referrals to agencies or organizations across the state that can help address basic human needs, mental and physical health needs or disaster response.
An expanded statewide 211 Helpline Center would allow social service and government resources to be maintained in a single comprehensive database thereby increasing the effectiveness of public education programs and allowing for systematic reporting of unmet needs and statewide trends.
The Senate State Affairs committee deferred action on SB 8 until a Fiscal Impact Statement is completed.
Also on Wednesday, Governor Kristi Noem gave her first budget address to the South Dakota legislature.
AARP South Dakota is pleased Governor Noem included a $450,000 appropriation in her budget for low income elderly tax refunds.
Additionally, AARP SD supports Governor Noem’s funding for nursing homes and healthcare providers. Noem’s budget includes $5 million in one-time money for nursing homes. Noem is proposing a 2.5% funding increase for all healthcare providers beginning in April with an additional 2.5% for nursing homes which gives nursing homes a 5% reimbursement increase.
Finally, Governor Noem is proposing $5 million is grants for expanding broadband in South Dakota. Access to reliable broadband is an important issue to South Dakota’s 50 plus population and AARP South Dakota looks forward to working with Governor Noem on this issue.
AARP South Dakota will be hosting our annual Lobby Day next week. We expect over 100 AARP SD Advocates from across the state to come to Pierre to fight for the issues that matter most to you. You can become an AARP advocate by joining our legislative advocate email list and staying up to date on the issues that affect South Dakota's 50+ population. Email email@example.com for more information.