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Dakotans for Health Withdraws IM 28; Amendment D Now Sole Medicaid Expansion Measure on November Ballot

In today’s ballot question surprise, Dakotans for Health has withdrawn its Initiated Measure 28, a proposed law to expand Medicaid.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:

Rick Weiland, Dakotans for Health, withdrawal letter to Sec. State Steve Barnett, 2022.07.11.
Rick Weiland, Dakotans for Health, withdrawal letter to Sec. State Steve Barnett, 2022.07.11.

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.

9 Comments

  1. P. Aitch 2022-07-11

    California adopted Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
    Enrollment began in October 2013, with coverage effective in January 2014.

  2. grudznick 2022-07-11

    Mr. Nesiba brow-beat Mr. Wieland, who can’t take much of a beating, into pulling his measure, initiated. I wouldn’t be shocked to find that my good friend Bob finally got some of the old Daugaard minions to back these ideas and do a little back-ally levering behind Mr. Wieland’s old friend’s prior coffee house.

  3. Nick Nemec 2022-07-12

    This is a good move and having only one Medicaid expansion measure will reduce voter confusion. I’m not a fan of putting in the Constitution what would more properly be in statute but the SD Legislature and Governor Noem have proven they have no respect for citizen initiated and passed measures. There is no guarantee they won’t try to muck up Amendment D if it is passed, but it was the closest thing to a sure bet that they would have repealed IM 28 the first chance they had.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-12

    I agree, Nick, with your constitutional purism. The constitution should state general governing principles from which rational and specific statute should flow. Unfortunately, the Legislature has become so unresponsive, and even opposed to recognizing and respecting the people’s constitutional right to initiative and referendum, that we must now resort to constitutional amendments to enact specific policies and protect them from Legislative interference and repeal.

    The proper separation of the constitution and statutes, of principles and policies, makes for a good government. South Dakota’s Republican Legislature makes good government difficult, to say the least.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-12

    As P notes, South Dakota has given up nine full years of the benefits of Medicaid expansion. Based on the revised fiscal note for Amendment D, I could say that we’ve easily given up over $2 billion in federal spending that would have saved lives and boosted our economy. We’ve paid $2 billion just to “own the libs” and stand against “Obamacare”.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-12

    Nick, you are not the only South Dakotan with concerns about keeping the Constitution clean. I suspect there would be some percentage—maybe single digit?— of voters who would vote Yes on a Medicaid law (or perhaps any specific policy) but vote No on an identical initiative proposed as a constitutional amendment. (I wonder: how much of the 2020 fall-off between IM 26 and Amendment A was folks who are fine with legalizing marijuana but did not want to write it into the state constitution?) When Amendment C threatened to raise the vote threshold for passing Medicaid expansion to 60%, I could see the logic of offering IM 28 alongside Amendment D in case Medicaid support would draw above 60% approval but would lose enough constitutional purists to drop D below 60%. That was my belt-and-suspenders theory. Now that voters have rejected Amendment C, I can see less need for belt and suspenders.

  7. Vi Kingman 2022-07-12

    I know spelling is extremely tough for you Grudz. Rick’s last name is “Weiland”

  8. grudznick 2022-07-12

    It is tough for me, yes. I have a hard time spelling Mr. H’s full last name, and indeed I guess I also have difficulties with Mr. Weiland’s. Please offer him my sincere apology, as grudznick funds it rude when people misspell other’s names.

    If Mr. H would let me edit my last blogging where I spelled Mr. Weiland’s name incorrectly, I would.

  9. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-07-12

    Vi Kingman: And to think I was roundly excoriated by our best friend and most beloved Conservative Commentator Grudz for spelling “LOUDLY” as “LOUNDLY”. I blush badly to this day for my sin.
    Yep, this has nothing to do with with current topic.

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