The 93rd Session of the South Dakota Legislature has entered the “home stretch”, with four days left to craft the FY19 budget and address the remaining five health care legislative proposals (SB 81, SB 62,  HB 1109, HB 1126and HB 1308) along with other legislative issues not related to health care. For detailed updates, visit the “Bill Monitor” page on

This week the Joint Appropriations Committee began setting budget marks for agencies; however, the final marks for health care related programs administered by the Department of Health, Department of Human Services and the Department of Social Services will come early next week. The legislative session is scheduled to end Thursday, March 8. After a two week break, the legislature can, if necessary, meet to consider any gubernatorial vetoes.

Unfortunately,  HB 1230, a legislative proposal to make texting while driving a primary offense, was killed in Senate Judiciary. Proponents provided compelling testimony about the number of traffic fatalities and serious accidents in South Dakota associated with distracted driving, most of which stem 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 was heard by the House Appropriations Committee. After much discussion, the bill was deferred until the 41st day. However, since the bill contains an appropriation, this fund, if available, can be included in special appropriations. The need for these funds was discussed extensively at the House Appropriations hearing. The Attorney General shared that if South Dakota decides to pursue litigation against opioid manufacturers, it may do it on its own rather than through a multistate effort. Although SB176 is technically dead, SDAHO will continue to monitor it.