Petition Drive Fails to Refer Governor’s Health-care Laws

UPDATE: 9:34 P.M.

South Dakota voters may get to decide whether the state should spend money giving economic development grants to businesses – but not whether it should comply with reforms in the 2009 federal health care law.

While the South Dakota Democratic Party turned in more than 22,000 signatures challenging House Bill 1230, the economic development grant law, a coalition of Tea Party groups didn’t meet Monday’s deadline to challenge two health care laws, Senate Bill 38 and Senate Bill 43.

If Secretary of State Jason Gant certifies that there are at least 15,855 valid signatures of registered voters among the 22,791 the Democrats submitted, HB1230 will be suspended until November 2012, when voters get to decide if it should become law.

Gant said Monday that the certification process would take time but couldn’t say how long.

HB1230 would set up a fund of around $16 million per year to give as grants to businesses considering starting up, relocating to South Dakota or expanding existing operations in the state. It was a key initiative of Gov. Dennis Daugaard this past legislative session.

It replaces an expiring program that gave automatic tax refunds to large construction projects, which cost the state around $23 million per year.

Daugaard and Republican supporters of the law argue that it is essential for economic development and that it saves the state money over the old program.

Democrats say $16 million is money the state can’t afford at a time it is cutting spending on education and health care, and dispute Daugaard’s claims that the law will save money.

SB38 and SB43 made changes to the state’s health care laws and included some reforms designed to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal health care reform law championed by President Barack Obama.

Tea Party groups like South Dakota Citizens For Liberty charged that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional and argued that the state shouldn’t be complying with the bill.

Daugaard, whose administration proposed both laws, has supported lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act but has argued the state should comply with the law as long as it is still in effect.

But by the end of the day Monday, Citizens For Liberty hadn’t turned in any petitions to Gant’s office. Because they missed the deadline, SB38 and SB43 will become law.

Barb Lindberg, president of Citizens For Liberty, could not be reached for comment Monday.

ORIGINAL STORY, 4:52 P.M.

PIERRE — Opponents of two health-care related laws approved by the 2011 state Legislature have failed in their petition drive to gather enough signatures to refer the laws to the 2012 general election.

Secretary of State Jason Gant announced late Monday afternoon that the effort to refer SB 38 and SB 43 had failed to meet the 5 p.m. deadline for submission. So the laws will take effect on July 1.

SB 38 deals with standards, assessments and reviews of managed health-care plans. SB 43 revises certain health-insurance standards for patient protection.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard brought the bills to the Legislature to provide for state implementation and more local control of federal health-care reform, should court efforts to derail the reform be unsuccessful. The package was also intended to revise and improve existing law, supporters said.

Barb Lindberg, president of the Rapid City tea party group Citizens for Liberty, argued that the bills relinquished state authority to the health reform package pushed by President Barack Obama and imposed changes in law that most state citizens weren’t aware of and wouldn’t support. Citizens for Liberty led the petition drive.

 

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