Thursday, September 6, 2012

Healthcare: Ballot Language Victory for Prop E

St. Louis Post DispatchJudge's ballot language ruling won't be appealed:
The Missouri attorney general’s office will not appeal a Cole County judge’s ruling this week that removed one of Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s ballot summaries from the November ballot. 
Judge Dan Green on Tuesday sided with Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and other Republican officials, who said Carnahan’s summary for a measure that deals with the creation of a state-based health insurance exchange was not “fair and sufficient,” as required by law.
The original ballot language for Proposition E was a travesty of partisanship concocted by Missouri's leftist Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and approved and defended by liberal Democrat Attorney General Chris Koster. Here's the ballot summary language that the court threw out at the end of August:
"Shall Missouri law be amended to deny individuals, families, and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care plans through a state-based health benefit exchange unless authorized by statute, initiative or referendum or through an exchange operated by the federal government as required by the federal health care act?”
Here's the court approved ballot summary that will replace it:
"Shall Missouri law be amended to prohibit the governor or any state agency from establishing or operating state-based health insurance exchanges unless authorized by a vote of the people or by the Legislature?"
Interestingly, Koster seems to abandon Carnahan after Judge Green's decision as reported by the P-D:
On his decision not to appeal, Koster, also a Democrat, said Greene’s summary more accurately reflects the Legislature's intent. 
"My job is to call balls and strikes in an impartial manner," he said. "The argument is over.”
However the Janus-faced Koster defended the Carnahan language in court and inexplicably approved it before that. CBS St. Louis reports conservative Republican Ed Martin, who is running to unseat Koster, was critical of Koster for failing to address the ballot language when Carnahan had originally submitted it:
Koster’s office is responsible for representing the state in lawsuits and defended Carnahan and the ballot summary in court. The attorney general declined to appeal the judge’s ruling, although the secretary of state’s office wanted to do so. 
Martin said Tuesday that Koster should have said Carnahan’s ballot summary was misleading. The attorney general’s office is responsible for approving the legal content and form of ballot summaries prepared by the secretary of state’s office. 
Martin criticized the handling of the ballot summary and court challenge, charging that Koster “signed off on ballot language that was inappropriate, not clear and should never have been allowed to be presented.”
Had Koster returned Carnahan's blatantly biased language to the Secretary of State's office for revision instead of approving it, Missouri would have avoided the court costs of defending Carnahan's partisanship.

The legislative changes underlying this ballot initiative are available in Missouri Senate Bill 464.

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