Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green today ruled in favor of Lt. Governor Kinder and Republican legislative leaders in a suit filed against Democrat Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s ballot summary regarding state health insurance exchanges.
Attorney Jay Kanzler argued on behalf of Kinder and the other plaintiffs, telling Judge Dan Green in Cole County Circuit Court, Jefferson City, that Secretary Carnahan’s language was biased and misleading.
In what came down to a debate on semantics, Attorney Jeremiah Morgan defended Carnahan’s wording, saying that the word “denied” is fair, based on language from the initial Senate Bill that authorized the referendum.
Her summary states: “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?”
In his order, Judge Green wrote that “correct ballot summary is warranted” according to state law, and that the new ballot language should say, “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?”
“It is imperative that voters have a clear and impartial summary on this crucial ballot issue that affects our healthcare rights and taxpayer dollars,” Kinder said. “Judge Green’s ruling substantiates our claim that Secretary Carnahan’s ballot summary does not pass the laugh test. The swiftness by which the judge issued his order gives proof to the clear bias in Carnahan’s summary.”
The plaintiffs prepared four different ballot summaries that they say are fair and comply with Missouri Law:
Kanzler read them to Green: “A — Shall Missouri law be amended to prohibit the governor and / or any unelected state bureaucrat from implementing provisions of the healthcare act unless authorized by a vote of the people or a vote of the legislature? B — Shall Missouri law be amended to prohibit the governor or any state agency from establishing or operating state-based heath insurance exchanges unless authorized by a vote of the people or a vote of the legislature? C — Shall Missouri law be amended to require a voter-approved initiative petition voter referendum or legislative act for the governor or any state agency to establish programs rules or policies to create or operate state-based health benefit exchanges? And D — Shall Missouri law be amended to probibit the governor or any state agency from establishing programs or promulgating any rules or policies to establish, create or operate state-based health insurance exhanges, unless the exchange is created by legislative act, or voter approved initiative petition or referendum.”
The case is eligible for appeal to the Supreme Court of Missouri for the next 10 days.
The other plaintiffs in the case include Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, Former House Speaker Steven Tilley, and Speaker Elect Tim Jones. They filed their petition on July 10 in Cole County Circuit Court. Carnahan filed her answer on Aug. 14, and the plaintiffs filed their motion for summary judgment on Aug. 15.
Morgan says the law does not require that just because a summary could be written differently does not mean it’s unfair or unlawful. He says Carnahan’s ballot language does what the law asks of it, which is to provide “fair and sufficient language” that will put voters on notice about the probable effects of the law.
AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports (1:20)