Tagballot measure

Oklahoma voters approve State Question 802 to expand Medicaid

Voters in Oklahoma approved State Question 802 to expand Medicaid. With 100% of precincts reporting, the vote was 50.5% (340,279) in favor to 49.5% (333,761) opposed.

State Question 802 was designed to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. It would amend the state constitution to provide Medicaid coverage for certain low-income adults between 18 and 65 with incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL). For 2020, the FPL is $12,490 for individuals and $25,750 for a family of four. Because the ACA includes a 5% income disregard, this measure would effectively expand Medicaid to those with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.

Medicaid is a government program that provides medical insurance to groups of low-income people and individuals with disabilities. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, provided for the expansion of Medicaid to cover all individuals earning incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in NFIB v. Sebelius that the federal government could not withhold funds from states that refused to expand Medicaid. The ruling had the practical effect of making Medicaid expansion optional for states. In 2018, the federal government financed 94% of the costs of state Medicaid expansion. For 2020 and subsequent years, the federal government was set to cover 90% of the costs. As of 2020, 14 states, had chosen not to expand Medicaid.

Oklahomans Decide Healthcare led the campaign in support of the initiative. Oklahomans Decide Healthcare said, “Expanding Medicaid will [make] our families healthier and our economy stronger. It will deliver healthcare to those who need it, including many parents, seniors, and hardworking folks who earn less than $17,000 a year. It will also bring more than a billion of our tax dollars home from Washington, D.C. every year to create jobs, boost our economy, and keep our rural hospitals open. That’s money that 36 other states that have expanded Medicaid get, but Oklahoma has lost out on for years.” State Question 802 was supported by the Oklahoma Hospital Association, State Medical Association, Osteopathic Association, and Nurses Association.

Vote No on 802 Association registered with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to oppose State Question 802. The committee was chaired by John Tidwell, state director of Americans for Prosperity. Tidwell said, “State Question 802, which will force Medicaid expansion, will overwhelm our already struggling state budget and hurt those that the program was intended to help. There is no question that overburdening an already fragile system will lead to cuts of core services we all rely on and trigger tax increases at a time when Oklahomans can least afford additional financial burdens. Oklahoma must vote no on State Question 802.”

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) also opposed the initiative. A spokeswoman for Stitt said, “If SQ 802 passes, our state agencies will experience deep cuts, because the ballot measure offers no mechanism to pay for it. The governor does not support this unfunded mandate.”

In 2017, voters in Maine approved the first-ever ballot initiative to expand Medicaid according to an optional provision of Obamacare.

In 2018, voters in Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, and Utah decided citizen-initiated measures concerning Medicaid expansion and the funding of expanded Medicaid coverage.



Californians to decide ballot measure on allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries and special elections

On June 26, the California State Legislature placed on the ballot a constitutional amendment to allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primary elections and special elections. The constitutional amendment will appear on the ballot for November 3, 2020, or March 8, 2022, depending on the outcome of Senate Bill 300.

The California State Senate voted 31 to 7 to pass the amendment—Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4—on June 25, 2020. Senate Democrats, along with two Senate Republicans, voted for the amendment. Seven Senate Republicans opposed the amendment. The California State Assembly voted 56 to 13 to pass ACA 4 on June 26, 2020. Fifty-five Assembly Democrats, along with one Assembly Republican, supported the amendment. Twelve Assembly Republicans, along with one Assembly Democrat, voted against the amendment. As a constitutional amendment, the governor’s signature is not required for the issue to appear on the ballot.

California would be the 19th state to expand voting in primaries to 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election. Ohio was the first state to enact 17-year-old voting for primaries. Colorado was the most recent state, adopting the policy in 2019.

Since the constitutional amendment was passed on June 26, it missed the deadline of June 25, 2020, for the legislature to place measures on the November ballot. However, the legislature is considering Senate Bill 300 (SB 300), which would extend the deadline to July 1 for the constitutional amendment and several others. SB 300 will need to pass both legislative chambers and be signed by the governor.

Due to negotiations to withdraw a ballot initiative and SB 300, the constitutional amendment could be one of 12 or 13 measures on California’s November ballot this year.

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Mississippi Legislature passed bill providing for vote on new state flag design on November 3

Mississippi voters are expected to vote on a new state flag design at the general election on November 3, 2020.

On June 27, 2020, the state legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 79, which suspended the legislative deadlines for introducing bills so that a bill could be introduced to establish a commission to design a new state flag. House Bill 1796 was then introduced and passed by the state legislature on June 28, 2020, in a vote of 92-23 in the House and 37-14 in the Senate.

In the House, all 46 Democratic representatives voted in favor of the bill. The vote among House Republicans was split with 45 voting in favor, 23 voting against, and five absent or not voting. Independent Representative Angela Cockerham voted in favor. There were two vacancies in the House at the time of the vote.

In the Senate, all 16 Democratic senators voted in favor of the bill. The vote among Senate Republicans was split with 22 voting in favor, 16 voting against, and one absent or not voting.

The bill requires the governor’s signature. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) is expected to sign it. Reeves said, “The legislature has been deadlocked for days as it considers a new state flag. The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it’s time to end it. If they send me a bill this weekend, I will sign it.”

The bill establishes the Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag, which must design a new state flag and report the recommended design to the Governor and to the state legislature by September 14, 2020. The new flag design may not include the Confederate Battle Flag and must include the words “In God We Trust.” The bill provides that “the new design for the Mississippi State Flag shall honor the past while embracing the promise of the future.”

The Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag was designed to consist of nine members. The Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor would each appoint three members. The other three members would be representatives from the Mississippi Economic Council, the Mississippi Arts Commission, and the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, to be appointed by Gov. Tate Reeves. All appointments to the commission would need to be made by July 15, 2020.

Voters would be shown a colored picture of the new proposed state flag and would vote either yes to adopt the new flag or no to oppose adopting the new state flag. If the new proposed flag is rejected by voters, the commission would reconvene, design another flag, and allow voters to approve or reject it at a special election in November 2021.

House Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White (R) said that the Confederate flag had come to be viewed as a hate symbol “whether we like it or not” and that “by changing our flag, we don’t abandon our founding principles. We embrace them more fully by doing what is right. We’re not moving further away from our Founding Fathers’ visions. We’re moving closer to them. We’re not destroying our heritage; we’re fulfilling it.”

Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) argued in the state legislature to keep the current state flag. McDaniel said, “I can see where any symbol can be subject to misinterpretation …I’m going to come down on the side of history and tradition.”

Voters in Mississippi decided a state flag referendum in April 2001. The referendum was referred to the ballot by the legislature. The measure presented voters with two potential state flags. Voters approved Proposition A, which reaffirmed the use of the flag adopted in 1894 containing the Confederate Battle Flag.

The 2001 flag referendum came about after a lawsuit brought by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) alleging that the use of the Confederate flag in the state flag violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection. The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the state flag’s inclusion of the Confederate Battle Flag did not violate any constitutionally protected rights. The court had also found that the state flag requirements were not codified in state law and thus that Mississippi did not have an official state flag. The 2001 flag referendum was held to formally adopt a state flag and officially codify it in law.

Five citizen initiatives related to the Mississippi state flag—one which sought to change the flag and four which sought to keep or more formally recognize it—were proposed in 2018 and 2019. None of those measures made it to the ballot.

Mississippi became the only state with a flag containing the Confederate flag after Georgia removed it from their state flag in 2001. The Georgia state flag had contained the Confederate flag since 1956.



Conflict over unclaimed property revenue in Louisiana leads to constitutional amendment on November ballot

In November 2020, Louisiana voters will decide a constitutional amendment designed to resolve a conflict between Governor John Bel Edwards (D) and State Treasurer John Schroder (R) regarding the state’s unclaimed property revenue. If approved, the amendment would do the following:

• Create the Unclaimed Property (UCP) Permanent Trust Fund, with the fund earmarked for payment of claims made by owners of abandoned property
• Allocate funds above administrative costs received due to the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act of 1997 (or its successor) to the UCP Permanent Trust Fund until equal to the state’s estimated unclaimed property potential liability
• Allocate any additional unclaimed property receipts above the state’s potential liability and any investment revenue from the UCP Permanent Trust Fund to the state’s general fund
• Authorize the treasurer to invest up to 50% of the UCP Permanent Trust Fund in equities

The Uniform Disposition of Property Act was passed in Louisiana in 1972. From 1972 to 2019, the state treasurer collected $1.3 billion in unclaimed property—such as abandoned bank accounts, IRAs, and 401(k) accounts; unclaimed pensions, Social Security benefits; unredeemed U.S. Savings Bonds; and uncollected insurance proceeds and utility deposits. From this, $463 million was remitted according to claims by the owners of the formerly unclaimed property. The remaining revenue was transferred to the state’s general fund, except for a certain amount transferred to the I-49 Leverage fund. In the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years, State Treasurer John Schroder did not transfer $32.5 million in unclaimed property revenue above the amount remitted to claimants to the general fund, saying the money did not belong to the state and should be kept in case its rightful owners come forward.

In February 2020, Gov. Edwards sued Schroder, requesting the court to order the treasurer to transfer the $32.5 million to the general fund. On May 26, 2020, District Court Judge Richard Moore, III, ruled in favor of Gov. Edwards. Schroder said he would appeal the ruling. Edwards and Schroder agreed to a deal, however, that included (a) Schroder releasing the $32.5 million and an estimated $25 million for the following fiscal year and (b) this constitutional amendment to establish a permanent fund for unclaimed property revenue starting in July 2021.

Senator Michael Fesi (R) introduced the constitutional amendment as Senate Bill 12 on June 4, 2020. On June 25, 2020, the state House passed an amended version of Senate Bill 12 in a vote of 95-3, with six absent. On June 26, 2020, the state Senate concurred with the House amendments in a vote of 35-0, with four absent.

This amendment joins six others put on the November 2020 ballot by the Louisiana Legislature during the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions. From 1995 through 2019, Louisiana voters decided 189 constitutional amendments. During even-numbered years, there were 121 constitutional amendments. An average of 10 measures appeared on even-year statewide ballots, with the total number ranging from four to 21. Louisiana voters approved 75% (141 of 189) and rejected 25% (48 of 189) of constitutional amendments since 1995.

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Proponents of Nebraska payday lending interest cap initiative submit signatures

On June 25, 2020, Nebraskans for Responsible Lending submitted over 120,000 signatures for its initiative that would limit all fees charged by payday lenders to an annual interest rate of 36%. Nebraska law currently allows delayed deposit services licensees to charge a fee of no more than 15% of the amount loaned and limits total loan amounts to $500 and loan terms to a maximum of 34 days. In Nebraska law, payday loan services are called delayed deposit services.

Across the country, 16 states and the District of Columbia have enacted a 36% annual interest rate cap for payday lenders. In 2018, a similar measure was approved in Colorado.

In Nebraska, the number of signatures required to qualify an initiated state statute for the ballot is equal to 7% of registered voters as of the deadline for filing signatures. According to the June 2020 voter registration report, there were a total of 1,216,692 registered voters in Nebraska at the time of the state’s signature deadline. This means that a total of 85,168 valid signatures are required to qualify this initiative for the ballot, which means Nebraskans for Responsible Lending needs a signature validity rate of approximately 71% for the initiative to qualify for the ballot.

Because of the unique signature requirement based on registered voters, Nebraska is also the only state where petition sponsors cannot know the exact number of signatures required until they are submitted. Nebraska law also features a distribution requirement mandating that petitions contain signatures from 5% of the registered voters in each of two-fifths (38) of Nebraska’s 93 counties.

The state legislature has referred two constitutional amendments to the November 2020 ballot. The signature submission deadline for 2020 Nebraska citizen initiatives is July 3.

From 1996 through 2018, there have been 73 statewide measures on the ballot in Nebraska. Thirty-nine (53%) were approved. Of the 73 total measures, 17 were ballot initiatives. Eight of the 17 ballot initiatives (47%) were approved, and nine (53%) were defeated.



California consumer privacy ballot initiative qualifies for November ballot

On June 24, the ninth—and final—ballot initiative qualified for the general election ballot in California. Titled the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020, the ballot initiative would expand the state’s consumer privacy law that was passed in 2018 and create a new government organization, called the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA), to enforce the law.

Californians for Consumer Privacy, which is leading the campaign behind the ballot initiative, needed to collect 623,212 valid signatures. On May 4, 2020, the campaign submitted 930,983 signatures. Therefore, 66.9 percent of the signatures needed to be valid. Counties conducted random samples of signatures, which projected that 77.5 percent were valid, allowing the ballot initiative to go before voters.

Alastair Mactaggart, a San Francisco-based real estate developer, filed the ballot initiative. He was the proponent of a different proposal that qualified for the ballot in 2018, but the ballot initiative was withdrawn after negotiations with the California State Legislature. Negotiations resulted in the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), which his new proposal would amend and add additional provisions to.

With the new ballot initiative, Mactaggart said his intention “is to go to the ballot.” He described the CCPA of 2018 as a “great baseline. But I think there are additional rights that Californians deserve.” Unlike the CCPA, which the legislature passed, a ballot initiative can’t be amended without the approval of voters at the ballot box due to the state constitution’s limits on legislative alteration. “The only thing I want to make sure is they can’t undo the act,” said Mactaggart, “There is basically unlimited resources on one side of the fight. If you don’t do anything, they will win eventually.”

The CCPA (2018) was designed to require companies that store personal information to disclose to consumers what types of information are collected and allow consumers to request that certain businesses not disclose or sell their personal information. The ballot initiative would also require businesses to not share a consumer’s personal information upon the consumer’s request; provide consumers with an opt-out option for having their sensitive personal information used or disclosed for advertising or marketing; obtain permission before collecting data from consumers who are younger than 16; obtain permission from a parent or guardian before collecting data from consumers who are younger than 13; and correct a consumer’s inaccurate personal information upon the consumer’s request. It would also remove the ability of businesses to fix violations before being penalized for violations.

Through March 31, 2020, Californians for Consumer Privacy raised $4.75 million, with Mactaggart as the sole funder. Currently, there is no organized opposition. Mactaggart’s last proposal, which resulted in the CCPA being passed, was opposed by Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft, among others.

The signature verification deadline for statewide ballot initiatives in California was June 25, 2020. The consumer privacy initiative was the last initiative pending signature verification for the 2020 ballot. Citizens can collect signatures for veto referendums against adopted legislation, with the referendum signature verification deadline set for 31 days before the election. As of June 25, no veto referendum campaigns were active in California.

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Referendum 90 on Washington 2020 ballot asks voters to approve or reject comprehensive sexual health education in public schools

On June 24, the Washington Secretary of State’s office found that Parents for Safe Schools, proponents of Referendum 90, had submitted enough valid signatures to qualify the measure for the 2020 ballot.

Referendum 90 asks voters to approve or reject Washington Senate Bill 5395, which was designed to require comprehensive sexual health education in public schools.

A vote to approve Referendum 90 would allow SB 5395 to go into effect. A vote to reject this referendum would repeal Senate Bill 5395. The bill is on hold pending the result of the election.

Senate Bill 5395 would require public schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education to students in grades 6-12 beginning in the 2021-22 school year and for all public school students, including those in grades K-5, beginning in the 2022-23 school year. The curriculum would have to include instruction and information regarding affirmative consent (defined as “a conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity as a requirement before sexual activity”) and bystander training.

Parents for Safe Schools sponsored the referendum measure in an attempt to repeal SB 5395. In a random sample check of 7,940 signatures submitted by the group, the secretary of state’s office found that 7,186 signatures were valid, projecting a signature validity rate of 90.5%. This means that of 264,637 signatures submitted by proponents, 239,496 were deemed valid through the random sample verification. To qualify for the ballot, 129,811 valid signatures were required.

Senate Bill 5395 was sponsored by Senator Claire Wilson (D), vice-chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. SB 5395 was passed in the state House on March 4 with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans voting against. SB 5395 passed in the Senate largely along party lines on March 7, 2020, with one Democrat, Tim Sheldon, joining all Senate Republicans in voting no. Governor Jay Inslee (D) signed the bill into law on March 27, 2020.

Under SB 5395, comprehensive sexual health education means “recurring instruction in human development and reproduction that is age-appropriate and inclusive of all students.” The bill would require course materials to be verified or supported by scientific research, published in peer-reviewed journals, and recognized as accurate by organizations such as the Washington State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Comprehensive sexual health education for students in grades K-3 would need to be taught as instruction in social and emotional learning (SEL). Social and emotional learning is defined by the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction as “a process through which individuals build awareness and skills in managing emotions, setting goals, establishing relationships, and making responsible decisions that support success in school and in life.” Sexual health education would need to be provided at least once to students in grades K-3, once to students in grades 4-5, twice to students in grades 6-8, and twice to students in grades 9-12. Sexual health education would not be required to be integrated into unrelated subjects or courses.

Schools would be required to notify parents that they are providing comprehensive sexual health education and make all course materials accessible to the parents. Parents could file a written request with the school district or the school’s principal to excuse their child from sexual health education instruction. The bill would require school officials to grant such a request.

Parents for Safe Schools said, “As parents, we have a responsibility to protect our children from inappropriate, ideology-based curriculum. This bill was passed late in the session with very little opportunity for ordinary citizens to testify and no amendments accepted. Parents and their local school boards deserve a voice in controversial curriculum decisions and many districts cannot afford an expensive, unfunded mandate.” As of June 21, Parents for Safe Schools had raised $178,846. The largest donor to the committee was The Reagan Fund, which gathers contributions for the Washington State House Republican Leadership PAC, and which gave $25,000 to Parents for Safe Schools.

Senator Claire Wilson (D), sponsor of Senate Bill 5395 and vice-chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, said, “Some people hear the words ‘sex education’ and mistake the focus of the curriculum, which is health and safety, and is age-appropriate for each grade level. This is about making sure younger children know what kind of touching is inappropriate, whether by peers or predators. It’s about helping older students recognize and resist abusive or coercive behavior. It’s about teaching all children to respect diversity and not to bully others. […] There are children who will be targeted for molestation in the coming year, there are young women who may face sexual coercion or assault. They need access to information and lessons that will enable them to make decisions to ensure their health and safety.”

Since the first in 1914, Washington voters have decided 38 statewide veto referendum measures at the ballot. The most recent veto referendum was on the ballot in Washington in 2019, when voters rejected Initiative 1000, an affirmative action-related measure approved by the legislature. In 81.6% of veto referendums (31 of 38), voters repealed the targeted bill. Conversely, in 18.4% (seven of 37) of veto referendums, voters upheld the targeted law.

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U.S. District Court ruled that Idaho must allow Reclaim Idaho to collect electronic signatures or put the group’s initiative on the ballot directly

On June 23, 2020, United States District Court Judge Lynn Winmill ruled that Idaho officials must do one of two things: (a) allow Reclaim Idaho, sponsors of the Idaho Income Tax Increases for Education Funding Initiative, to gather signatures electronically, or (b) place the ballot initiative on the November ballot themselves. Judge Winmill concluded that the state restrictions in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus infringed on petitioners’ First Amendment rights to place an initiative on the ballot.

Luke Mayville, a co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, said, “This court decision is a major victory for the kids of Idaho, for the working families of Idaho who want to give their kids a chance to succeed and, maybe more than anything, this decision is a major victory for the constitutional right of every Idaho citizen to petition their government.” The campaign had collected 30,000 signatures out of the 55,000 valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot before suspending its campaign in March.

The judge gave state officials until Friday to decide how the state would proceed. Governor Brad Little (R) and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (R) responded to the ruling in a statement saying, “This decision is a surprising exercise of judicial activism. We plan to appeal this decision immediately.”

Reclaim Idaho filed the lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction to grant the campaign 48 more days to gather signatures and temporary permission to use electronic signatures. The campaign announced on March 18 that they were suspending its signature drive. The 48-day extension equals the number of days between the date the campaign suspended its signature drive and the original May 1 signature deadline.

The measure was designed to increase the income tax rate for individuals with incomes above $250,000, increase the corporate income tax rate, and create and funded the Quality Education Fund.

Twelve of the 26 states that permit statewide initiative and/or referendum feature at least one lawsuit challenging ballot measure deadlines and requirements. The subjects of the lawsuits include the use of electronic signatures, notarization requirements, signature deadlines, and signature requirements.

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Californians to vote on ballot measure to provide state stem cell research institute with more money

With the signature verification deadline on June 25, the eighth citizen-initiated measure has qualified for the ballot in California. On June 22, the office of Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced that enough signatures had been collected for a ballot initiative to fund the state’s stem cell research institute with a $5.5 billion general obligation bond.

In 2004, voters approved Proposition 71, which created the institute, which is known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM); issued $3.00 billion in bonds to finance CIRM; and established a state constitutional right to conduct stem cell research. As of October 2019, CIRM had $132 million in funds remaining. On July 1, 2019, CIRM suspended applications for new projects due to depleted funds.

Californians for Stem Cell Research, Treatments & Cures is leading the campaign in support of the ballot initiative. Through June 22, the campaign had raised $2.07 million, with Robert N. Klein II providing $4.63 million of that total. Klein is chairperson of the campaign, and he was the chairperson of the campaign behind Proposition 71 in 2004. Klein also served as the first chair of the committee that governs CIRM. Klein is a real estate investor who cites his son’s Type 1 diabetes as one reason for his involvement in stem cell research.

Besides issuing a $5.5 billion grant for CIRM, the ballot initiative would also make changes to the institute’s structure, in part to provide more resources related to treatment access. CIRM has three working groups that advise the governing committee, one each for medical research funding, research standards, and facilities grants. The ballot initiative would create a fourth working group, which would focus on improving access to treatments and cures.

Californians last voted on a bond measure at the election on March 3, 2020. Proposition 13 would have issued $15 billion for school and college facilities, but 53 percent of voters rejected the proposal. Since 1993, voters have rejected 12 of 44 (27.3 percent) bond issues on the statewide ballot in California. Most of the bond measures (36 of 44) were legislative referrals. The remaining eight were citizen-initiated measures. Voters approved 75 percent of the legislature’s bond measures and 62.5 percent of citizen-initiated bond measures.

Unless the California State Legislature passes a bond measure for the general election ballot before June 25, which is the deadline to refer ballot measures, the stem cell bond ballot initiative will be the only bond issue on the California ballot in November.

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Oklahoma to decide State Question 802 to expand Medicaid on June 30

Oklahoma voters will decide State Question 802 on June 30. The initiative would expand Medicaid in Oklahoma under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It would provide Medicaid coverage for certain low-income adults between 18 and 65 with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL). For 2020, the FPL is $12,490 for individuals and $25,750 for a family of four. Because the ACA includes a 5% income disregard, this measure would effectively expand Medicaid to those with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level.

June 24 is the deadline to request an absentee ballot for the June 30 election.

Medicaid is a government program that provides medical insurance to groups of low-income people and individuals with disabilities. The ACA provided for the expansion of Medicaid to cover all individuals earning incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in NFIB v. Sebelius that the federal government could not withhold funds from states that refused to expand Medicaid. The ruling had the practical effect of making Medicaid expansion optional for states. In 2018, the federal government financed 94% of the costs of state Medicaid expansion. For 2020 and subsequent years, the federal government was set to cover 90% of the costs. As of 2020, 14 states, had chosen not to expand Medicaid according to the ACA.

Yes on State Question 802—Oklahomans Decide Healthcare is registered with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to support State Question 802. Vote No on 802 Association, chaired by John Tidwell, state director of Americans for Prosperity, is registered to oppose State Question 802. Campaign finance reports are due on July 31, 2020, for the period covering April 1, 2020, through June 30, 2020. As of June 22, Vote No on 802 Association reported $165,550.97 in independent expenditures for state question communications purposes including mailers and advertisements. Yes on State Question 802 had not reported any independent expenditures. Reports of cash and in-kind contributions to the committees and expenditures by the committees are due on July 31, 2020.

Oklahomans Decide Healthcare said, “Expanding Medicaid will [make] our families healthier and our economy stronger. It will deliver healthcare to those who need it, including many parents, seniors, and hardworking folks who earn less than $17,000 a year. It will also bring more than a billion of our tax dollars home from Washington, D.C. every year to create jobs, boost our economy, and keep our rural hospitals open. That’s money that 36 other states that have expanded Medicaid get, but Oklahoma has lost out on for years.” State Question 802 is supported by the Oklahoma Hospital Association, State Medical Association, Osteopathic Association, and Nurses Association.

A spokeswoman for Governor Kevin Stitt (R) said, “If SQ 802 passes, our state agencies will experience deep cuts, because the ballot measure offers no mechanism to pay for it. The governor does not support this unfunded mandate.” Stitt had announced a Medicaid expansion plan set to take effect July 1, 2020, and a Medicaid program plan under the Healthy Adult Opportunity (HAO) federal program referred to as SoonerCare 2.0 designed to take effect July 1, 2021. On May 28, 2020, the state withdrew the expansion plan for certain low-income adults that was set to take effect on July 1, 2020. The expansion was withdrawn after Stitt vetoed a bill designed to fund the programs, citing funding concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic. The SoonerCare 2.0 program under the HAO was posted for public comment through June 27, 2020.

Stitt said, “I appreciate the willingness of the Legislature to craft a proposal to fund SoonerCare 2.0. When I announced SoonerCare 2.0, unemployment rates were at 3.2 percent. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty within energy markets and commodity prices, unemployment rates are predicted to be as high as 14 percent. This will not only increase the number of individuals currently enrolled in Medicaid, but will also increase the number of potential enrollees in the expanded population.”

On August 4, Missouri voters will also decide a Medicaid Expansion initiative. The default election date for both the Oklahoma and Missouri initiatives was the November 3 general election. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) and Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) both opted to put the initiatives on their states’ primary election ballots instead.

In November 2018, voters in Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, and Utah decided ballot initiatives concerning Medicaid expansion and the funding of expanded Medicaid coverage. In January 2018, voters in Oregon approved Measure 101, thereby upholding 2017 legislation to provide funding for the state’s portion of costs for expanded Medicaid coverage through a tax on healthcare insurance and the revenue of certain hospitals. In 2017, voters in Maine approved the first citizen initiative used to implement an optional provision of Obamacare.

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