South Dakota 2021 Legislative Session: Week 3 Update

Posted on 01/29/21

Week three is in the books and AARP SD is making sure your legislators know we are watching happens in Pierre! On Tuesday, AARP South Dakota held its annual Lobby Day - virtually! AARP Advocates participated in a virtual discussion about our 2020 legislative priorities, had a Q&A with SD Secretary of State Steve Barnett regarding the 2020 elections and live-streamed the Senate and House floor sessions.

On top of all that, AARP SD was still able to have a presence in the Capitol that day by serving a carry-out lunch to legislators and inviting them to pose with life-size cardboard cut-outs of some AARP volunteers displayed throughout the Capitol. 

This week, Senate Bill (SB) 24 which will allow an individual to update their voter registration information through an online system, has passed in the South Dakota Senate.  The online system, which will be supported by the SD Secretary of State's office, could be used for changes to last name, address, phone number, email, party affiliation and willingness to be an elections worker. 

  • AARP SD testified in support of this legislation in the Senate State Affairs Committee when the original bill allowed South Dakotans to register to vote online.  Even though that provision has been removed from the bill the SD Secretary of State and AARP South Dakota continue to support the bill.  The bill now moves over to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Also this week, AARP SD testified in favor of Senate Bill (SB) 34, which allocates $100 million toward broadband expansion and upgrades in SD.  In additional to AARP SD, many healthcare, agriculture, telecommunications groups and officials from Governor Noem’s office testified in favor of the bill. 

  • Increasing high-speed internet access will support diverse and important internet-based applications such as telehealth, remote learning, connections with family and friends, and civic engagement.  As you recall, in 2019 AARP surveyed our members in South Dakota and found overwhelming bipartisan support for broadband initiatives in the state. 

    At this time an estimated 135,000 South Dakotans are without reliable high speed internet access and this bill is a step toward connecting them to the 21st century.  SB 34 passed unanimously in Senate Energy and Commerce and was referred to the Appropriations committee. 

Even in these unprecedented times, it's important that your legislators hear from you! Many legislative coffees are being streamed online so you can still connect with your elected officials. Click here for a list of these events, and please always take all recommended COVID safety precautions. If you are not able to safely participate in a local conversation, consider calling or emailing your legislator directly!

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