Legislative Highlights 2-13-13

Posted February 12, 2013 at 4:59 pm


District 22 Representative

Dick Werner bw.jpg

This week I am going to briefly discuss the state’s current Medicaid situation and if the state elects to participate in the Medicaid Expansion as offered under the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obama Care. But first, let me congratulate the state of South Dakota for being named the “Best Run State in America” by Barron’s magazine in 2012. In addition, the SD Department of Social Services Medicaid program went through a recent audit and the results showed a “zero error rate”, a truly remarkable rating.

The Department of Social Services is the second largest state general fund expenditure behind education at 32.3%. The proposed general fund budget for this department is nearly $423 million and the overall budget is the largest of any agency budget of the state at $1.075 billion dollars with the difference being made up in federal funds. Medicaid is approximately 70% of the department’s budget and currently there are 116,536 South Dakotans on Medicaid which is anticipated to rise next year to nearly 119,000 with 69% of these being children. Currently, one in seven South Dakotans are on Medicaid.

South Dakota had the highest per capita income growth in the nation last year at 11.8%. The Federal Government uses each state’s income growth to determine the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, also known as FMAP. States that are doing well, such as South Dakota, take on a larger share of the overall cost to offer Medicaid (receive a lower percentage of federal assistance). The United States FMAP formula ranges from 50% (North Dakota) to a high of 74%, with South Dakota currently at 54.2% compared to 56.93% last year. The lower the percentage the more it costs your state to participate in Medicaid, so this year in South Dakota an additional $20 million dollars shifted from the federal government to our state. Each 1% FMAP change for South Dakota means approximately $7 million dollars. South Dakota anticipates that it will reach the 50% threshold match rate within two years and that will mean another approximately $30 million shift back to South Dakota from the federal government.

Now let’s focus on the Medicaid Expansion which South Dakota has an option to select participation in. The expansion would make an additional 48,536 South Dakotans Medicaid eligible. These would all be working adults whose incomes are at or below 138% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. For example, a single household with an income of $15,415 or a household of four with an income of $31,809 would be eligible. If South Dakota elects to participate in the Medicaid Expansion, there would be over 167,000 South Dakotans on Medicaid or approximately one in every five South Dakotans. The Medicaid Expansion would be under a different FMAP match. The Affordable Care Act allows states to expand participation with the new eligible enrollees being at 100% FMAP for the years 2014-2016, 95% for 2017, 94% for 2018, 93% for 2019 and 90% for 2020. The FMAP for 2021 and beyond has not been determined.

Governor Dennis Daugaard has made it clear that at this time he does not plan to recommend the state of South Dakota participate in the expansion and that we need to wait to get more answers. States can get in and get out at any time. If South Dakota participates, the projected cost to the state between now and 2020 is $102.1 million. As of this writing, there are 11 states that are saying no at this time, 21 states that are in, nine states that are undecided, four states that are leaning no, and five states that are leaning yes.

Thank you for your interest in state government and allowing me to represent you. You can contact me at 350-1371 or at my personal email at dickwerner_5@hotmail.com or my legislative email at Rep.Werner@state.us.sd. Visit my web site at www.dickwerner.com.

Jim White bw.jpg

The 88th Legislative Session ramped up to full speed this week. My House State Affairs and Judiciary committee bill calendars are full. In fact, the House State Affairs chairman had to schedule an additional afternoon meeting following the Legislative Session to consider a plethora bills. By the filing deadline last week, South Dakota lawmakers introduced 492 bills, which is about average for a legislative session. As a matter of Legislative history, during the past 10 years, South Dakota lawmakers filed an average of 495 bills per year. According to the Legislative Research Council the highest number of bills ever introduced was 929 in 1957, and the lowest number filed was 432 in 1964. Historically, in the past decade just over half of the bills introduced have been passed and signed into law.

In House State Affairs this week committee members considered seven bills dealing with our South Dakota veterans. Two call for establishing working holidays, which are essentially annual recognition days. Another creates a task force to study delivery of veterans’ services. A fourth would establish and operate a new cemetery and memorial park in eastern South Dakota for veterans and government employees, including legislators and state elected officials. A fifth bill requires state government to publish information about the number of veterans employed in state government and the number of state employees who are veterans with service-related disabilities. In addition the House Appropriations Committee filed the final two bills. The first directs county governments to seek payment assistance for their veterans services officers from the department of Veterans Affairs and the second expands the definition of veterans for non-bonus purposes to cover military reserves and National Guard members.

Another veterans’ bill that cleared the House this week allows state licensing boards to give credit to veterans for military training and experience in their trades and professional fields. This bill would affect 36 state offices and agencies with licensing or certification authority. Applicants would still need to pass the required exams.

This week in House Judiciary, committee members considered bills affecting: access of criminal records and civil case information, maximum-security deposits for residential premises, extending general immunity from liability for directors and officers of certain nonprofit fire and ambulance departments, computer theft and damage and bankruptcy issues. The committee tabled numerous bills, as they were either duplicative or unnecessary. However, House Judiciary will heat up this week as we once again address certain controversial social issues that will cost our state thousands of dollars in litigation fees even though South Dakotans have voted twice statewide not to waste public time and money on controversial private social issues.

In other House happenings, I attended a third briefing this week on Medicaid expansion sponsored by legislative leaders and the Council of State Governments, an organization that represents all three branches of government for states throughout our nation. Currently our governor has recommended not expanding Medicaid eligibility to needy South Dakotans even though the expansion would cover an estimated 48,000 people, mostly adults without children or the working poor.

I want to thank several fur trappers who traveled to our Capitol to testify on three bills: HB1146, HB1147 and HB1148. Testimony will continue this week on those bills. Further, I want to thank Kelli Garry from Lake Preston for being my shadow this past week in the Legislature. And, thanks to all my constituents for your input as the Legislative process continues into the sixth week. Please feel free to contact me at: (605) 352-9862 or peggygibson@hotmail.com.

A clarification from Rep. Peggy Gibson: Several constituents have express concern about SB159-the ESL bill. SB159 is a bill that would give our South Dakota school districts additional funding to teach children the English language. It is NOT a bill to require children who speak the English language to learn a second language.

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This week the Senate heard a report from a committee on transportation at the request of the Task Force on Teen Driving Safety. They brought forth four bills as a result of this study. I have attempted to summarize these bills. However, I would encourage you to read them in their entirety on the L.R.C. website for further clarification.

SB105—Passed 21-14

REVISE CERTAIN PROVISIONS REGARDING INSTRUCTION PERMITS AND RESTRICTED MINORS’ PERMITS TO DRIVE A MOTOR VEHICLE.

Any person who is at least 14 years of age but less than 18 years of age applying for an operator’s restricted minor’s permit or an instructional permit and does not currently hold one of these licenses, may apply to the Department of Public Safety for an instructional permit which shall be held for a minimum of 180 days.

SB106—Passed 26-9

THIS BILL PROHIBITS CERTAIN MINORS FROM USING WIRELESS COMMUNICATION DEVICES WHILE OPERATING MOTOR VEHICLES UPON PUBLIC HIGHWAYS

Wireless communication devices include cellular phones, text messaging devices, personal digital assistants that send or receive messages, audio-video players, or laptop computers. No holder of an instructional or restricted minor’s permit may use any type of wireless communication devices while operating a motor vehicle upon public highways.

SB107—Passed 18-17

THIS BILL WOULD HAVE LIMITED THE NUMBER OF PASSENGERS ALLOWED IN A MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATED BY A HOLDER OF A RESTRICTED MINOR’S PERMIT.

SB216—Passed 30-5

THIS BILL ESTABLISHES A STATEWIDE DRIVERS’ EDUCATION PROGRAM.

The program shall design and approve drivers’ education programs and establish core curriculum models of instruction. The coordinator shall be within the Department of Public Safety and be responsible for implementation of the proposed curriculum.

Thank you for the opportunity to be your District 22 Senator. You can continue to reach me at 350-5127 or sen.white@state.sd.us.

Legislative Highlights

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