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Nebraskans Put Medicaid Expansion to Public Vote

Nebraskans get to vote on expanding Medicaid this November. Advocates for humane, sensible health care policy submitted their petition on July 5. The Nebraska Secretary of State validated the petition on August 24. And a judge this week threw out a lawsuit filed by Republicans who don’t like the people voting on things the Republicans want to obstruct. The Nebraska Republicans tried to argue that the medicaid proposal violates Nebraska’s single-subject rule, but the judge said nuts to that:

The petition proposes the expansion of Medicaid and directs the State Department of Health and Human Services to maximize federal financial participation in funding medical assistance. Opponents argued that the two elements are separate and distinct, in violation of a state constitutional requirement that all initiative measures have a single subject.

But the judge said prior court rulings have allowed multiple elements to appear on an initiative measure as long as they have a “natural and necessary connection” to each other. She ruled that the two elements in the petition are closely related [ Joe Duggan, “Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Petition to Put Medicaid Expansion Before Nebraska Voters,” Omaha World-Herald, 2018.08.29].

Cranky Nebraska Republicans can still appeal that ruling, but the deadline for finalizing the ballot in Nebraska is September 14.

Two takeaways here:

  1. Republicans will use the single-subject rule to make specious arguments to defeat good legislation. South Dakota Republicans are trying to to pass a single-subject rule for amendments in South Dakota with Amendment Z. We should vote NO on Z.
  2. Like Arizona, Nebraska accepts ballot measure petitions much later and much closer to the general election than South Dakota does. Circulating petitions closer to the election is better for public understanding and responsiveness of ballot measures. Among other reforms, South Dakota should move its initiative petition deadline from a full year before the November election to the first week of July.


  1. mike from iowa 2018-08-31 09:11

    Nebraska wingnuts sound like they are working hard to earn the title Northern Mississippi’s Southern Armpit. Or maybe the South of Northern Mississippi.

  2. jerry 2018-08-31 10:51

    Another reason to put Cory in Pierre, a patriotic vote for people’s right to be heard. Since the republican Duma has hit Pierre, ordinary folks do not have a say in what they believe is best for the state. Each time there is a vote, we tell Pierre that and they don’t listen. Put Cory in office as well as the rest of the moderate’s to make South Dakota a place we can be proud of and not one we are shamed with due to corruption and the disregard of the people’s voice.

  3. mike from iowa 2018-08-31 16:02

    One would think if you want your electorate to be knowledgeable about the issues, then circulating petitions closer to election day would be a good thing. If you want a dumbed down, wingnut electorate then petitions should either not be allowed or be circulated so far from election day no one would remember what they were about.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-31 18:37

    Thanks, Jerry. I am committed to stronger voting rights and initiative & referendum rights. Even though I know some South Dakotans disagree with me on some issues (although they’ve voted with me on six referenda in a row!), but I’m still willing to give them more power to vote on issues rather than giving the Legislature that I want to be a part of more power.

  5. Drey Samuelson 2018-08-31 20:11

    So true, Cory! The folks who are complaining about outside money financing ballot initiatives should realize that such an early deadline for signature submissions forces people to go to national groups for help getting signatures. If that’s truly a problem then there is an easy answer: follow the lead of neighboring states like Nebraska and North Dakota which both have much more liberal signature submission deadlines.

  6. Debbo 2018-08-31 22:49

    Well, Jerry pretty much covered everything I had in mind to say. Thanks Jerry.

    “Put Cory in office as well as the rest of the moderate’s to make South Dakota a place we can be proud of and not one we are shamed with due to corruption and the disregard of the people’s voice.”

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-09-01 13:45

    Good point, Drey: every new restriction Republicans have imposed on ballot measures—earlier deadlines, paperwork, more complicated rules increasing need for expensive compliance lawyers—have depressed grassroots efforts and increased the proportionate influence of big outside money on the ballot measure process. It’s as if Republicans want the process to become dominated by big money so they can then argue they need to take it away from us completely.

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