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Legislature at Mid-Session

Date: February 17, 2014

Three Issues Drawing Particular NFIB Scrutiny

In her latest update from the Capitol, NFIB/South Dakota State Director Lindsey Riter-Rapp reports on four issues of immediate importance to small business.

The South Dakota Legislature has nearly finished the mid-point of the 2014 session with cross-over day on February 25. The big issues NFIB has been following closely this session are:

Minimum Wage

While there are no bills currently pending before the South Dakota Legislature concerning minimum wage, this issue continues to permeate the discussions in the halls of the Capitol.  NFIB has joined with other small-business groups to build a coalition against the 2014 fall ballot measure that would tie any increases to the state minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index to allow automatic wage increases annually. In the 2014 South Dakota State Ballot, our members indicated they were overwhelming opposed to this increase.  

Unemployment Insurance 

There are two significant bills that NFIB has tracked this legislative session involving unemployment insurance. NFIB testified in support of House Bill 1045, which extends an employer’s current unemployment insurance contribution rates through December 31, 2014, and then reduces the contribution rates for calendar year 2015 and thereafter. These reductions are the result of the work of the unemployment advisory task force after the Department of Labor and Regulation predicted the trust fund was projected to reach $89.3 million in 2015. The department would like to maintain a target trust fund balance of $78 million, which is one year of payments. HB 1045 was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 70 to 0. It was approved by Senate Commerce and Energy on February 6 and will now be considered by the full Senate.  

NFIB is also closely monitoring House Bill 1143. This bill would repeal certain provisions regarding unemployment insurance benefit eligibility of workers attending approved training. It passed the House of Representatives 54-14 on February 10.  It has now been referred to Senate Commerce and Energy. The Department of Labor and Regulation has indicated that in 2013 there were 14 individuals that received these benefits for a total payment by the Department of $45,000.  

Balanced Budget 

NFIB offered a letter of support for Rep. Hal Wick’s effort to pass House Joint Resolution 1004.  This measure is part of a nationwide effort to use the Article V process outlined in the U.S. Constitution to move Congress toward adopting a Balanced Budget Amendment. The process requires 34 state legislatures to adopt similar resolutions that would call for a convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment. NFIB is supportive of this effort as it understands that small-business owners are frustrated with the federal government’s failure to address the basic budgeting that every citizen and small business must adhere to in their daily activities. While the resolution was approved by the House State Affairs by a vote of 7-4, it was ultimately defeated on the House floor.  

Medicaid Expansion

There are a number of other measures that NFIB is closely monitoring regarding the expansion of Medicaid. Those bills are identified below.

House Bill 1210 – An Act to expand Medicaid eligibility.  
Sponsors: Rep. Scott Parsley, and Sen. Chuck Welke
Summary: This bill expands Medicaid services to include individuals with income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level plus 5 percent for the applicable family size.
NFIB Position: Monitor
Status: Referred to House State Affairs Committee, January 31. Scheduled for hearing February 19.  

House Bill 1239 – An Act to revise the financial eligibility requirements to obtain certain medical assistance. 
Sponsors: Rep. Spencer Hawley, and Sen. Billie Sutton
Summary: This is the Democrat bill on Medicaid eligibility expansion. It increases the eligibility level to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
NFIB Position: Monitor
Status: Referred to House Health and Human Services Committee, February 4. Scheduled for hearing February 18.  

House Bill 1244 – An Act to assist certain qualified employees with health insurance. 
Sponsors: Rep. Scott Munsterman, and Sen. Jean Hunhoff
Summary: This bill creates a South Dakota health insurance assistance fund, to be administered by the Department of Social Services, to assist in defraying the cost of health insurance coverage for a qualified employee, which is someone who does not have insurance through an employer plan, is not eligible for Medicaid, Medicare, or IHS, and whose income level is below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. The fund is to receive $7 million from the building South Dakota fund for state fiscal year 2015 and each fiscal year thereafter. The Act is repealed if Medicaid eligibility is expanded.
NFIB Position: Monitor
Status: Referred to House Health and Human Services Committee, February 4. Scheduled for hearing February 18. 

House Joint Resolution 1007 – To refer to the voters the question of whether the state should expand Medicaid pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. 
Sponsors: Rep. Bernie Hunhoff, and Sen. Jason Frerichs
Summary: This bill would submit the question of expanding eligibility for Medicaid to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to the electors of the state for approval.
NFIB Position: Monitor
Status: Referred to House State Affairs Committee, February 4. Scheduled for hearing February 19. 

Senate Joint Resolution 3 – To refer to the voters the question of whether the state should expand Medicaid pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. 
Sponsors: Sen. Jason Frerichs, and Rep. Bernie Hunhoff
Summary: This bill refers to the voters the question of whether the state should expand Medicaid pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. It states that the minimum income standard that the Department of Social Services may impose on a person for eligibility for the medical assistance program is 138 percent of the federal poverty level established by the Affordable Care Act. 
NFIB Position: Monitor
Status: Referred to Senate State Affairs Committee, February 4. Senate State Affairs, deferred until the 41st legislative day, Passed 7-2, February 10.

Previous 2014 Legislative Reports


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NFIB has joined with other small-business groups to build a coalition against the 2014 fall ballot measure that would tie any increases to the state minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index.