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Judge Places Rx Ballot Question On Hold

Kealey Bultena

A Hughes County Circuit Court judge is putting a ballot question on hold as an opposition group challenges the validity of gathered signatures.
South Dakotans Against The Deceptive Prescription Ballot Issue says the group backing Initiated Measure 26 used out-of-state petition circulators – making the signatures gathered invalid.
A circuit court judge will not allow Secretary of State Shantel Krebs to put Initiated Measure 26 on the November ballot, pending a hearing this summer
Sherry Kurtz-Anderson is with the group that opposes the ballot question and brought the question to court
“We believe some circulators were not South Dakota residents and used false addresses in declaring residency on the petitions,” Kurtz-Anderson says. “We also believe there is a significant number of invalid signatures.”
Initiated Measure 26 caps the amount a state agency pays for prescription drugs at or less than what the Department of Veterans Affairs pays.
Kurtz-Anderson says the ballot question could hurt veterans and raise the cost of prescriptions.
South Dakotans Against the Deceptive Prescription Ballot Issue is funded by two prescription companies, a subsidiary of Bristol Meyers Squibb and Novo Nordisk.
But supporters of the ballot question say the court challenge is another effort by the pharmaceutical industry to undermine the ballot question.
Drey Samuelson is a former chief of staff for Senator Tim Johnson, and a backer of IM 26.
“We’re confident this is just another tactic they’re using to try and delay the inevitable,” Samuelson says. “We think we have a good chance to win this. This is part of what they do. We’re confident the court will rule in our favor on it.”
Samuelson says if passed, IM 26 could save the state around $200 million a year.
The ballot question organization South Dakotans for Lower Drug Prices received contributions from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
A hearing for if the question makes the ballot is set for August first.