SD legislators to review Medicaid expansionPoliticians will vote by Wednesday to advance or kill special spending bills for education, health care.
By: Chet Brokaw , The Associated Press
PIERRE — The Legislature will hold a special hearing on expanding Medicaid to cover more people and special spending bills that include proposals to boost state financial aid to school districts.
The Legislature is off Monday for the President’s Day holiday, but the House and Senate will work hard Tuesday and Wednesday as they face the deadline for getting bills out of the chamber in which they originated. That deadline, called crossover day, is Wednesday. All Senate bills must be dealt with by the Senate — either passed and sent to the House or killed — and the House must finish work on its own bills. Leaders of the Republican majority said both chambers are in good shape to meet the deadline.
To meet the crossover deadline, the Senate Appropriations Committee must vote Tuesday on 24 special spending bills, including some that would give extra state financial aid to school districts.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard has proposed increasing state aid by 3 percent next year, essentially covering inflation. But representatives of school districts have said they need more money to help recover from the effects of budget cuts made two years ago.
One bill, sponsored by about 80 of the 105 lawmakers, would increase state aid by $1 a student, but it would be amended to provide more if estimates at the end of the legislative session indicate the state can afford it. The House Appropriations Committee has only a few House bills left to consider on Tuesday.
The Senate and House committees on Health and Human Services will hold a joint hearing Wednesday on the possibility of expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income people as part of the national health care overhaul. A group of lawmakers from both parties recommended the hearing be held to learn more about the advantages and drawbacks of expanding Medicaid, the state-federal program that pays the medical expenses of poor people.
The state’s Medicaid program covers about 116,000 children, adults and disabled people. An expansion would add an estimated 48,000 people to the program’s rolls, mostly adults without children.
Daugaard wants the state to delay a decision because he is uncertain the federal government can keep its promise to pick up most of the cost of the expansion. Some lawmakers argue the state should expand coverage to get more people insured.
Economic development incentives
Lawmakers continue to work on plans to provide economic incentives to encourage construction of large-scale wind power, agricultural processing and industrial projects.
South Dakota now has no overall economic incentive program because a tax refund program has expired and a new program intended as a replacement was rejected by voters in the November election.
The Legislature has kept some bills alive with the intent of amending them when agreement is reached on an incentive program.
Meanwhile, the Senate will vote this week on a bill that would provide financial incentives to encourage just the construction of wind power projects in the state.
If a committee rejects a bill, the sponsor sometimes tries to get the full House or Senate to debate the measure anyway by using a move called a smoke-out. If one-third of the chamber’s members agree, the committee must deliver the bill to the floor the next legislative day. If the committee delivers it without recommending that it pass, a majority vote is required to hold a full debate on the measure. Smoke-out maneuvers rarely work.