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Second Medicaid Expansion Measure Qualifies for November Ballot; Petition Has 17,249 Valid Signatures

Dakotans for Health, the ballot question committee sponsoring Initiated Measure 28, pays me for a variety of work. Dakotans for Health is not paying for this blog post.

By the skin of their progressive teeth, Dakotans for Health has qualified its initiative to expand Medicaid for the November ballot. Dakotans for Health submitted its initiative petition on May 3 with, by its count, over 23,000 signatures, 36% more than the 16,961 required to put initiated laws to a statewide vote. Yesterday, the Secretary of State’s office finished its review of a random sample of signatures and reported that the petition has an estimated 17,249 valid signatures:

  • Signatures submitted: 23,228
  • Random sample size required by ARSD 05:02:08:00.05: 711
  • Number of signatures found valid in sample: 528
  • Validity rate of signatures in sample: 74.26%
  • Estimated number of valid signatures submitted: 17,249
  • Signatures required to qualify: 16,961
  • D4H’s signatures to spare above minimum threshold: 288—1.7%!

If the Secretary had found nine more bum signatures in that sample, the petition would have been toast. That’s a tight margin!

Any grinches wishing to test that margin have until Monday, July 11, to challenge that validation by submitting an affidavit (in hard copy!) and evidence to the Secretary of State’s office. As with Initiated Measure 27 (the marijuana decriminalization measure whose SOS challenge deadline is June 27), challenges submitted to the Secretary of State’s office may only deal with the facial completeness of the sheets included in the random sample and the existence of the sampled signers in the voter registration file (SDCL 2-1-17.1). Folks with other complaints about the petition have to take their case to the Sixth Circuit Court in Pierre (SDCL 2-1-18). Court challengers need to hurry: the Secretary of State has to certify copies of all ballot questions to county auditors by August 16 and deliver printed ballots to all auditors by September 21.

The validation of Initiated Measure 28 means voters will get to cast two votes on Medicaid expansion this November: Amendment D, sponsored by South Dakota’s big hospitals and their allies, would write a practically identical Medicaid expansion provision into the South Dakota Constitution. Despite the ongoing resistance of South Dakota’s Legislature, big majorities of South Dakota voters—Democratic, independent, and Republican—support Medicaid expansion. Voters also just finished handing Republican saboteurs their posteriors on primary platters Tuesday with the resounding rejection of Amendment C, the Legislature’s attempt to sandbag the initiative process by raising the vote threshold for fiscal measures like Medicaid expansion from simple majority to 60%. Both the AARP poll on Medicaid expansion and the rejection of Amendment C’s attempted sabotage of that policy indicate South Dakota voters are highly likely to do what their elected legislators refuse to do (which is exactly why we have the check and balance of initiative!) and vote to expand Medicaid this fall.

But why two measures? The one key difference between the two measures is that Initiated Measure 28 writes Medicaid expansion into state law while Amendment D writes it into the state constitution. Rick Weiland, co-founder of Dakotans for Health and chief sponsor of Initiated Measure 28, tells the press that his committee “encourage[s] voters to vote for both the initiated law, IM 28 and the constitutional amendment, Amendment D,” but they recognize that some constitutional purists maintain that the constitution is for general governing principles, not specific policy. Some South Dakota voters believe we have to bend that principle: the only way to insulate a popular measure from Legislative tinkering or outright repeal is to place that measure in the Constitution, which can only be changed by a vote of the people. Still, some significant fraction of voters may cling to their ideal, a perfectly valid theory about the purpose of a constitution, against the practical extremes to which South Dakota’s clubby, privilege-sensitive Legislature pushes the electorate. IM 28 is the back-up plan, ensuring that constitutional purism doesn’t thwart the long-delayed expansion of Medicaid to provide affordable health coverage to 42,500 South Dakotans.

Amendment D and Initiated Measure 28 may both be on their way to big majority votes, but why take chances on just one measure that a significant fraction of voters may reject? Dakotans for Health takes the belt-and-suspenders approach, offering voters a chance to shout Yes! twice at the Legislature.


  1. John 2022-06-10 07:09

    We must vote for both measures.
    The SD legislature has a long infamous history of destroying the will of the voters, as they recently tried again with their moronic Amendment C.
    It’s sad, but we cannot trust the SD legislature. This is not our spite of the legislature. This reflects past and recent legislative corrupt governance.

  2. Algebra 2022-06-10 10:43

    And how do you plan to pay for it?

    The federal government only pays for things until they don’t. Healthcare providers are already having trouble getting reimbursed by both the IHS and the VA.

    Putting it into the state constitution would be extremely problematic should the feds stop paying for any of it.

  3. larry kurtz 2022-06-10 10:46

    The military loves TRICARE but through sequestration the Republican Party managed to cripple both the Veterans Health Administration and the Indian Health Service so GOP donors could push for privatization.

    There is a growing movement among Democrats and others to fund Medicare for all but I like the idea of rolling the funding for Obamacare, TRICARE, Medicare, the Indian Health Service and the VHA together then offering Medicaid for all by increasing the estate tax, raising taxes on tobacco and adopting a carbon tax.

  4. jerry 2022-06-10 14:05

    Here is how to pay for it, in Algebra for Algebra. How are basic algebra problems solved? We are the government in this equation. Never, ever forget it. Without us, the government, then nothing goes into the equation.

  5. P. Aitch 2022-06-10 14:38

    Algebra forgets or ignores that the taxpayers in blue states send SD money every year to pay for things SD is too thrifty/cheap to pay for.
    Should SD be in a position to actually pay their own way for once enough whining by the grudznutz group will get blue states to do what’s right to help the underserved low-income community in SD.

  6. leslie 2022-06-10 15:46

    “whining by the grudznutz group” is right. Last night public record was made of “busy” J. Kushner, nepotism recipient, making light of Trump’s sabotage of Biden’s election, characterizing impeachment defense counsel as “just more whining” with their concerns voiced to Jared of somehow getting through to his criminal father in law, the depth of the criminality of the then broiling coup attempt.

  7. O 2022-06-10 16:09

    Algebra, I would argue that this is not new funding — but instead a shift in funding. Instead of your “limited government” approach of paying for poor health care in lives, I support the proposal to pay for better health care with tax revenue.

    Progressives/Liberals/Democrats MUST begin their pro-life campaigns ion issues where the MAGA/GOP/Right is all too willing to keep money in their pockets when it costs lives. They did it for reopening the economy/mask mandates and COVID; they do it for health care. Theseinitives are wonderful frameworks to begin the no-more-lives-to profit rhetoric.

  8. Algebra 2022-06-11 07:11

    I have no doubt that the half of the population which doesn’t pay income taxes will happily vote for a state income tax to fund all the stuff they want. And then the people with money will leave.
    The poor always underestimate the mobility of the wealthy. Nobody moves to South Dakota for the weather, you know.

  9. larry kurtz 2022-06-11 07:21

    Yes, socialized agriculture, socialized dairies, socialized cheese, socialized livestock production, a socialized timber industry, socialized air service, socialized freight rail, a socialized nursing home industry, a socialized internet, socialized gas well remediation and now a socialized water system are all fine with Republicans in South Dakota but then they insist single-payer medical insurance is socialized medicine.

  10. ABC 2022-06-13 00:29

    Without us, there is NO state government. THEY aren’t corporate types who can ignore the will of the people and give themselves golden parachutes and work (?) out of state.

    Why can’t SOS count all the signatures??? We pay them to!

    Vote YES, both will pass!!

    Rs are socialists, they get a lot of money and subsidy from the government!

    Ike gave us socialized highways, remember?

    Daugaaaaaaard whined about how hard it would be to pay $15 or $20 000 000 a year as State share, when Feds would pay 95 or 97% of Medicaid expansion money. The Trump Party kept BILLIONS of dollars out of South Dakota as they continuously rejected Medicaid expansion money.

    Vote them out permanently.

    Let’s create a Progressive Party, and get more votes than the the D (me too, Farm team, I like guns, too) Party and the R Party (we vote against everything good),

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