Legislative Update

Where are we with SB147?  This bill passed out of the Senate, even though there was opposition to it from the Department of Social Services and the Department of Human Services.  Once it passed out of the Senate, it was revised slightly to remove some perceived hostile language, and both Departments dropped their opposition to it.  It was to have been heard by the House Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday, but was referred to the House Appropriations Committee for a hearing today.  It did pass out of committee this morning, and will go to the House floor this coming Monday.  If you would like to help, contact your Representatives and ask them to vote for this bill.  There is a very good likelihood  the House will pass it.  Once it does, it will need to go back to the Senate for concurrence because it was amended after it left the Senate.  It would then go to the Governor to be signed into law.  There are still several steps to accomplish, but things are moving in the right direction! 

Brian Ardry
President/CEO, ADVANCE

Legislative Update on SB169 & 147

SB169 did not make it out of committee yesterday, but it was not due to lack of support from those present.  There where 50-60 people in the room (many who needed to stand), along with another 20-30 in the hallways outside.  Most wore yellow shirts which said "Support the Need".  Passionate testimony was given by parents, staff, board members, and people receiving services.  In the end, a motion was made to defer the issue to the 41st day of the Legislature, which effectively kills the bill without voting "no" on it (because there is no 41st day).  There were six members of the Taxation Committee present, with four of them voting to move it to the 41st day, and two voting against this.  The issue was very emotional for all present, including for those voting to kill the bill.  Even though this bill didn't pass, the committee members agreed that something needs to be done to increase funding to our system.  I would highly encourage you to send a note of thanks to the sponsors of this bill, especially the prime sponsor, Senator Novstrup.  He is a great champion for the services we provide, and he deserves our thanks for going to bat for us.

Contact Links for Sponsors of SB169:

SB147, the other bill that went before a senate committee yesterday, did pass out of committee unanimously and it will be going to the floor of the Senate on Tuesday (2/21).  This bill is more technical, and it does not compel funding or mandate an appropriation from the legislature.  However, it is hoped that it could be used as an aid in making future funding decisions for medicaid providers.  This bill would affect all medicaid providers in the state, including community support providers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, community mental health centers, etc.  Click here for the one-page document that gives more background information on this bill.  If you would like to help, I would encourage you to contact your Senator before Tuesday and ask them to support SB147.  I'll give an update on this bill next week.  

Sincerely,

Brian Ardry
President/CEO, ADVANCE
Phone:  605-696-5204 or 605-692-7852

Support Needed for Senate Bills Aimed at Increasing Funding for CSPs

Friends, Families, and Staff of ADVANCE: 

I was in Pierre a few days this past week for the association of Community Support Providers (CSPs) of SD meetings and legislative activities.  (ADVANCE is one of 19 CSPs in our state).  There are a couple of very significant things going on legislatively.  There are two Senate Bills scheduled for committee hearings on Wednesday, February 15th.  These bills are:

  • Senate Bill 169 is sponsored by Republican Senators Al Novstrup and Brock Greenfield, and Republican Representative Lana Greenfield.  This bill would establish a property tax increase of $15 per $100,000 of property in order to increasing funding for Community Support Providers.  This would potentially allow us to raise DSP wages by $3 - $5 an hour.  (That would be a game changer!).  Senator Novstrup met with our association and said that getting new money for CSPs was going to be his focus this legislative session, but he needs us there fighting with him.  The first battle will be to get it out of Senate Taxation Committee on Wednesday morning.  The association is ordering 100 t-shirts and we'll be flooding the capital that day.
  • Senate Bill 147 is sponsored by a variety of legislators and it appears to have some broad support.  It goes before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday morning as well.  This bill establishes a process for periodic review of medicaid provider rates and makes an appropriation based on the review.  This bill could benefit CSPs, nursing homes, and other providers of long term care services.  

At our association meeting this week, we came up with a game plan for next Tuesday and Wednesday.  Tuesday is Disability Day at the capitol.  The Executive Directors, key staff, interested families, and people receiving support are encouraged to be at the Capitol that day to raise awareness and try to gain support for the two bills.  On Wednesday, we want a large group as well to be at the  committee hearings.  The Senate Taxation Committee will hear testimony on SB169 at 10am, and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hear testimony on SB147 at 11am. 

The support for CSPs this year is amazing, and it is unprecedented that there is a bill (SB169) to focus exclusively on Community Support Providers.  How can you help?  Our first battle is to get SB169 through the Senate Taxation Committee next Wednesday.  You can email the members of the Senate Taxation Committee.  Click this link to see the committee members.  This will be especially effective if one of the members is a legislator from your district.  What do you say?  Here are some ideas:

If you are a staff of ADVANCE:

  • Talk about yourself including the work and tasks you do every day, how long you have been in your current position and struggles you face due to the wages you earn. 
  • Talk about the specific services that support people with disabilities and what impact they have. [They increase independence, allow people to be active participants in their communities, ensure health and safety, foster skill development, provide job coaching, meet medical needs, allow people to volunteer, etc.]
  • Talk about open shifts, challenges in competing with other local businesses for workers, or how high turnover affects quality of care. [Open shifts and high turnover make it difficult to do anything more than the basic cares. Quality care depends on consistent, quality staff.] 

If you are a family member:

  • Talk about your loved one and the specific services they receive. Share how the services impact your loved one’s life, as well as your own.
  • Talk about open shifts, and staff turnover. How does high staff turnover impact your loves one’s life, as well as your own. [Open shifts and high turnover make it difficult to do anything more than the basic cares. Quality care depends on consistent, quality staff.]

If you are a self-advocate:

  • Talk about yourself and the specific services that you receive. Share how those services assist you in your day-to-day activities.
  • Talk about the impact staff turnover has on your day-to-day activities. What does it feel like to have staff leave and new staff start working with you?

We realize SB169 is going to be a hard sell due to the fact that it increases taxes.  Even personally, this might be something you oppose.  However, we really want to show our support for the need to raise wages for our staff, even if the method to do so is not something we all agree on.

If you have any questions, or are considering traveling to Pierre next Tuesday and/or Wednesday, please contact me at brian.ardry@advancebkg.com.

Brian Ardry
President/CEO, ADVANCE