AARP AARP States South Dakota Advocacy

South Dakota 2020 Legislative Session: Week Four Update

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As we enter February, the pace in Pierre is picking up! The deadline for introducing bills was Thursday and when all is said and done, the legislature will consider over 400 bills, resolutions and commemorations this year.

On Tuesday, AARP South Dakota testified in support of House Bill (HB) 1050 which provides online voter registration. As a consumer organization, AARP SD believes policymakers in our state should adopt fair, simple and readily accessible voter registration procedures, including online registration. HB 1050 was brought forward by the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office and we have full confidence that online voter registration can be implemented in a safe and secure manner in South Dakota. The bill passed in committee and on the floor of the House of Representatives so it now moves over to the Senate for consideration.

On Friday, AARP South Dakota testified in favor of House Bill (HB) 1088 which creates a penalty for violation of any vulnerable adult protection order and strengthens South Dakota’s response to elder abuse. AARP SD believes it should be a criminal offense to abuse, neglect or exploit a vulnerable individual and there should be enhanced penalties for such abuse. As you may recall, we served on the Elder Abuse Task Force in 2015 and this bill strengthens the provisions put forward by that working group. The House Judiciary committee deferred action on this important legislation, so there is still time for you to let your representatives know how important their support is!

AARP South Dakota will also be supporting, House Bill (HB) 1034, which provides property and sales tax refunds to low income seniors. As you know from previous years, 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, seniors often live on fixed incomes and cannot afford the yearly increases in their property taxes while also meeting their basic needs for food, medicine and utilities. We applaud the Governor and Legislature for supporting this program over the years and hope their support will continue in 2020.

Finally, AARP South Dakota has opposed House Bill (HB) 1235, which makes vaccinations optional for South Dakota students. AARP SD believes vaccinations are valuable tools in preventing infectious disease and saving lives. When everyone is vaccinated, we protect the most vulnerable members of society including young children, the elderly and the medically compromised. We believe public policy decisions about vaccinations should be based on criteria that will reduce barriers to giving safe and effective vaccines, encourage adherence to evidence-based vaccine recommendations, and support providing accurate, science-based immunization information.

Do you want to get involved on any of these issues? Many of your state legislators return home after each week in Pierre to reconnect with their communities and to hear from their constitutes, like you! AARP SD is one of the many groups who help to facilitate these conversations by sponsoring legislative coffees in cities across the state. Find an event near you and remember to let your lawmakers know you are watching what happens in Pierre whenever you see them in your community!