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If You Back Medicaid Expansion, You Gotta Fight Schoenbeck and Vote NO on Amendment C!

When Senator Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Lake Kampeska) craftily moved the vote on Amendment C, the 60% vote threshold for fiscal ballot measures, to this year’s primary ballot instead of the general election, he admitted he doing so to ensure the measure could take effect before the general election and make it harder for voters to expand Medicaid:

Several Senate Republicans had spoken against the resolution because it leap-frogs the issue in front of ballot measures that are already in the works, including an effort to make Medicaid health insurance available to people who live below 133% of the federal poverty level.

But Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, the Senate pro tem, initiated the move to expedite the constitutional amendment vote, saying it was important to get “safeguards in place for the taxpayers.”

He acknowledged that his expedited push was motivated by the Medicaid expansion campaign, but argued that the vote threshold should apply to all ballot initiatives that levy taxes or spend significant state funds [“Lawmakers Push 60% Vote Threshold on Tax Ballot Measures,” AP via KOTA-TV, 2021.03.05].

At a candidate debate against his primary challenger Colin Paulsen in Watertown this week, Senator Schoenbeck reiterated his intent to stifle Medicaid expansion:

“I put it there because I want it to be in place—if the voters approve it—for the general election that’s going to happen because we’re going to have Medicaid expansion there,” Schoenbeck says. “I don’t happen to support more welfare. I want to have a higher threshold for when we vote on that in November. That’s why it’s on the primary ballot. There’s no other reason” [Lee Strubinger, “Senator Moved Ballot Question for ‘Higher Threshold’ on Medicaid Expansion,” SDPB, 2022.05.06].

Schoenbeck is only underscoring what he made clear a year ago: Amendment C is an effort to defeat Medicaid. Dakotans for Health, the ballot question committee for which I work and which this week submitted a petition to place a law to expand Medicaid on the November ballot recognizes this fact and is actively campaigning against Amendment C. South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, the other ballot question committee backing Constitutional Amendment D to expand Medicaid, tells SDPB, “We’re not going to let anyone or anything distract us from that goal,” but that committee has remained neutral on Amendment C:

Zach Marcus, the campaign manager for South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, which is sponsoring the Medicaid expansion vote, said his organization has not taken a position on Amendment C, although some of the organization’s coalition members are opposing it [Jonathan Ellis, “Voters Will Decide Whether They Want to Make It Harder for South Dakota to Raise Taxes,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.05.02].

Supporting Medicaid expansion but remaining neutral on Amendment C is like sitting in Kiev, saying you’ll fight for Ukrainian sovereignty, but not protesting Putin’s air strikes on your schools and hospitals. If you’re fighting for Ukraine and you see Putin coming, you rev up the Gepards and open fire! If you’re fighting for Medicaid expansion and you see Schoenbeck coming (yes, in this case, Schoenbeck is Putin), you don’t wait for October to campaign for your measure; you rally all your friends and tell them to Vote NO on C!


  1. Mark Anderson 2022-05-07

    But, but, Lee Schoenbeck knows what best for all of you, doesn’t he? His welfare should be your concern. People dying from lack healhcare is what he needs to survive. His own welfare is what matters.

  2. Jake 2022-05-07

    Because someone else didn’t pull “hard enough or at all” on their bootstraps to lift themselves as high on the ladder of success as you, is good enough self-reasoning for conservatives like Schoenbeck to base their lives around. Looking out for the downtrodden or unlucky of society (“there, but for the Grace of God go I”) never blinks on their radar screen of life. Things and others are as good as I perceive; it’s all about me and I how I think. I KNOW what’s best for everybody,,,,

  3. LCJ 2022-05-07

    To be certain this would destroy majority rule in SD if passed.
    For the life of me I can’t understand why anyone would ask you to vote to lessen the impact of your vote or any one else.
    We all know what this is all about. Quit jerking people around.
    No on C to be certain.

  4. Mark Anderson 2022-05-07

    Jake, most of those conservatives are trust fund babies. They don’t know what real work is like. The best example is Matt Gaetz, who likes underage girls and who criticizes women as being overeducated. Says it all doesn’t it.

  5. Arlo Blundt 2022-05-07

    well…fundamentally, Republicans distrust the act of voting by citizens. The important things in politics are supposed to be settled over good cigars and single malt scotch. The less voting, the better.

  6. Francis Schaffer 2022-05-09

    “I don’t happen to support more welfare,”
    This statement tells me nothing. The word welfare could/should? be applied to subsidies for alternative energy installations by utilities; wind generators, solar farms, battery storage. It also could apply to ethanol production and now the pipelines to aggregate carbon dioxide discharge from ethanol plants and pipe it to an underground reservoir in North Dakota. Has anyone asked Lee, if he has accounted for all county money spent at local medical providers for people with no insurance nor ability to pay for services; mostly emergency room services? I don’t understand why South Dakota ‘leadership’ has chosen to unilaterally disarm our citizens by not expanding Medicaid while 36? other states have expanded Medicaid to their citizens? Or is Lee embarrassed that South Dakota receives more from the Federal government than the citizens of South Dakota pay to the Federal government and has chosen Medicaid expansion as this welfare issue being a bridge too far?

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