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Calls to Action

South Dakota legislature sends ABLE bill to Governor Daugaard

March 14, 2016
Last week, advocates in South Dakota applauded action by the South Dakota legislature to send Achieving Better Life Act (ABLE) legislation to Governor Dennis Daugaard for his signature. 
The South Dakota Senate voted 35-0 to approve the legislation which would help South Dakota residents open ABLE accounts in other states. The legislation is sponsored by State Senator Alan Solano and State Representative Jeff Partridge. 
“This will help families that have disabled children that are looking to set up accounts to pay for their services,” Sen. Solano, testified Wednesday according to a story in the Rapid City Journal. 
Rep. Jeff Partridge said that ABLE provided “a great opportunity” and noted the strong support legislation received at the federal level in 2014. “It wasn’t even close. Everyone was in favor of it.” 
The South Dakota legislation follows upon enactment by the federal government of the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014. Modeled after college savings accounts, ABLE accounts will enable people with autism and their families to save for housing, education, transportation, medical and other expenses if related to their disability. Assets in ABLE accounts will be exempt from a $2,000 cap on conventional savings accounts. 
“We are thrilled that South Dakota families are one step closer to having access to a new financial tool to plan for their financial security,” said Stuart Spielman, senior policy advisor and counsel at Autism Speaks. “We are thankful to our legislative champions who pushed for legislation that will impact the entire disability community and we are hopeful that Gov. Daugaard will sign this important legislation in short order.” 
If signed, this would be a second major victory for South Dakota autism advocates. Last March, Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed SB.190, a bill to require coverage for autism related medical care including Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) for children up to 18 years of age. 
ABLE laws have now been enacted in the District of Columbia and the following 33 states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.