SD legislature enters final two weeks

The 93rd Session of the South Dakota Legislature has entered the “home stretch”, with two weeks left to craft the FY19 budget and address the remaining five health care legislative proposals (SB 81, SB 176, HB 1109, HB 1126 and HB 1308) along with other legislative issues not related to health care.  For detailed updates, visit the “Bill Monitor” page on www.sdaho.org.

This week the Joint Appropriations Committee will set the budget mark for agencies with health care programs and policies. An update will be provided in Unified Voice on Friday.

Unfortunately,  HB 1230, a legislative proposal to make texting while driving a primary offense, was killed in Senate Judiciary.  Propopents provided compelling testimony about the number of traffic fatalities and serious accidents in South Dakota associated with  distracted driving, most of which stems from  texting. There was strong support for the legislation from South Dakota’s property and casualty insurance companies. According to testimony, sending a text can take five seconds, and when a driver takes their eyes off the road for five seconds, they are traveling the length of a football field. However, several committee members expressed concern that enforcement would be difficult. We supported the legislation and its companion bill to also make not wearing seat belts a primary offense. Many of our members see firsthand the impact of distracted driving.

Just in time to meet the crossover deadline, SB 176, a bill originally intended to impose restrictions on opioid prescriptions, was resurrected and modified to tackle opioid abuse by providing funding to the attorney general’s office for investigation and litigation.  The amended legislation passed the Senate and is scheduled for hearing by the House Judiciary committee on March 1. At present, the language of amended SB 176 would fund the attorney general’s office to hire an attorney and paralegal. The sponsor shared the intention was for South Dakota to join other states in taking action against opioid manufacturers, however the language of the bill is less specific.  SDAHO will continue to monitor the legislation.