Legislative Report

Medicaid and its effects on South Dakotans

By Sen. Tom Jones

District 17

In my newsletter last week, I mentioned that I would like to visit the new Health Care package that is to be initiated, if our state of South Dakota so chooses.  In my opinion, this Medicaid expansion is good for South Dakota.  Earlier this session I attended briefings on Medicaid expansion.  Please remember that 69 percent of our current Medicaid recipients are children and 31 percent are adults.  The Affordable Care Act allows the states to expand coverage to those adults who qualify if they are at 138 percent of the poverty level. South Dakota will receive between $200,000,000 and $300,000,000 in federal assistance over the next 10 years in health care with a minimal contribution from our state.  I think we would be foolish not to enroll in this program

Action in the Senate Appropriations Committee and on the Senate floor is picking up.  This week we acted on SJR 2 which will require the electors at the next general election to decide if any new tax were to be imposed, it would require a 2/3 voters’ approval. I voted against this bill as it would not let the majority rule.  A less than 2/3 vote will let the minority rule if it doesn’t have 67 percent in favor of it.  This passed 25-10, primarily down party lines.  We also passed SB 194 to extend the sunset date for schools to use capital outlay funds for various expenses other than buildings.  I reluctantly voted for the bill which passed 29-6.  Schools desperately need funds; therefore we passed this extension.  The bad part of passing this is that someday we will need capital outlay money for repairs on an old building or construction of a new building and if we spend those funds for day-to-day operations, the fund will be reduced severely or even gone.

In Appropriations Committee we heard requests from the Department of Revenue, Public Utilities Commission, the Governor’s Office, the Department of Tribal Relations, State Auditor, Treasurer, the Commissioner of Schools and Public Lands, and the Legislative Research Council.  On Wednesday and Thursday, we had bill hearings involving money requests.

If you have comments or questions, please e-mail me at sen.jones@state.sd.us.






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