In today’s ballot question surprise, Dakotans for Health has withdrawn its Initiated Measure 28, a proposed law to expand Medicaid. Dakotans for Health submitted a petition on May 3 to put its Medicaid expansion measure on the ballot alongside Amendment D, which would write Medicaid expansion into South Dakota’s Constitution. Secretary of State Steve Barnett certified the petition on June 9, and as of this noon, no one had filed any legal challenge against the petition. But today, which was the deadline for both challenges to the IM 28 petition and sponsor withdrawal of any ballot measure, IM 28 sponsor Rick Weiland formally asked the Secretary of State to remove IM 28 from the November ballot:
This withdrawal may have no noticeable effect on the practical outcome of Yes votes this fall: passage of Amendment D alone will have the same practical effect as passage of IM 28 would have produced: bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal assistance to South Dakota each year—money South Dakota has stubbornly and stupidly foregone for several years—which will cover health care for more than 42,000 currently uninsured South Dakotans, stimulate the economy, and quite likely pay for itself in increased tax revenues and savings in other budget areas.
Dakotans for Health and Amendment D sponsoring committee South Dakotans Decide Healthcare have issued this statement, indicating that the withdrawal of IM 28 is an effort to clear the path, simplify the ballot, and dedicate all available resources to passing Amendment D:
South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, a broad coalition of patient advocates, nurses, healthcare providers, farmers, faith leaders, educators, and more, welcomed Dakotans for Health as a formal member of the coalition. Dakotans for Health will engage their extensive grassroots network to support passage of Amendment D in November.
Zach Marcus, Campaign Manager for South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, said the campaign is grateful for the work Dakotans for Health has done and will continue to do to expand Medicaid coverage. “Medicaid expansion is a great deal for South Dakota. We will bring hundreds of millions of dollars back home, and make more than 40,000 of our friends and neighbors newly eligible for affordable health care. I’m grateful that Dakotans for Health will be a major partner in ensuring this critical Amendment passes in November.”
Rick Weiland, Co-Founder of Dakotans for Health said, “We are grateful to the 24,000 South Dakotans who signed our petition, and the hundreds of South Dakotans who worked tirelessly to get Initiated Measure 28 on the ballot. You showed the huge groundswell of support for Medicaid expansion in our state. After conversations with South Dakotans Decide Healthcare members, we have agreed that the best path forward to accomplishing this goal is to join efforts behind one campaign. We look forward to passing Constitutional Amendment D and ensuring hard working South Dakotans can access the affordable health coverage they need” [South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, press release, 2022.07.11].
The statute allowing sponsors to withdraw an initiated measure from the ballot no later than 120 days before the vote, SDCL 2-1-2.3, was enacted on July 1, 2010, as part of the initiative reform measure 2009 House Bill 1184. Today’s withdrawal of IM 28 is the first time this statute has been invoked by an initiative sponsor.
Voters this fall will thus have only two ballot questions on which to vote: Amendment D and Initiated Measure 27, which seeks to reassert the reefer rights rejected by the South Dakota Supreme Court in 2021.