Photo looking up into dome of capitol building in Pierre, SD

Big questions on the 2022 ballot

Last month brought an anniversary date which I am most grateful to have obtained. Nearly a decade ago, I was diagnosed with a deadly form of stomach cancer. The news came as a shock to my family. Every cancer survivor remembers the date they received the call. The world stops.

My sons were 8 and 13 at the time. They started school two weeks after I was diagnosed. I missed sending them off to school that year as I was undergoing tests and treatment. Knowing I would not be there, I sent handwritten cards encouraging them about their first day of school. It would seem an easy enough task, but an entire box of Kleenex aided my efforts in writing those cards.

A few years ago, as my oldest was headed to college, we came across the card. We talked about those difficult months when I went through treatment. Near the end of the conversation, he circled back to the card and offered, “I understood the reason why you wrote the card. I knew you were trying to tell me good-bye if you didn’t make it back home.”

Medical bills with health insurance can be overwhelming. Without insurance, they can be insurmountable.

Thankfully, I did return home and never missed another first day of school. Those were tough days, months and years. I’m thankful to live in a state with fabulous health care providers who are dedicated to the art of healing.

I share this story with a grateful heart. My family has a mom and a wife because of faith, prayer and support of our community… and because I had health insurance. Yes, health insurance, through my employer. Insurance that provided a medical pathway to survive cancer.

When families face a health crisis without health insurance, a diagnosis like cancer is even more devastating. Medical bills with health insurance can be overwhelming. Without insurance, they can be insurmountable.

Most working people have some form of health insurance provided by their employer, as I did all those years ago. However, there are still many working people, in addition to those who are unemployed, who do not have insurance.

This November voters will decide if a proposed plan to expand the public health insurance program known as Medicaid is the right plan South Dakota. It is on the ballot as Constitutional Amendment D.

Review and Recommend

As it does with all issues that go to the voters, the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce followed a careful process to evaluate the proposal and recommend a position to members.

The work begins with our Issues Management Council (IMC); a committee of more than 40 volunteers representing a variety of industries and ranging from small business owners to leaders of large corporations. Our process requires hearing from both sides of the debate on each ballot measure. IMC then provides a recommendation to the Board of Directors, which ultimately determines the Chamber’s position on each ballot measure.

The process is careful and thorough. We know that not all members will agree with every position adopted by the Chamber. But you can be confident that all the arguments are being weighed in light of what is best for our businesses and our community.

In addition to the Medicaid expansion proposal, legalizing medical marijuana and the proposed ordinance to ban new slaughterhouses within the city limits of Sioux Falls are on the general election ballot. The Chamber will provide information and make recommendations for each of these issues. The results can be found on our Positions page.

I’m proud of the Chamber’s long tradition of engaging our membership in policy decisions. The process inspires trust in the Board’s decision on each ballot measure. Working together we are building a better South Dakota for our residents for generations to come.

Debra Owen

Public Policy Director, Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce