Fla. Senate Votes on Health Care Amendment

By: Jim Saunders, Health News Florida; AP
By: Jim Saunders, Health News Florida; AP

[UPDATE] 3-9 10:20am -- TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) --

The Florida Senate has agreed to put a Republican-sponsored response to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul on the November 2012 ballot.

The proposed state constitutional amendment (SJR 2) passed on a
largely party line 29-10 vote Wednesday. It now goes to the House
where it's also expected to pass.

The measure was introduced by Senate President Mike Haridopolos,
who also is running for the Republican nomination for the U.S
Senate next year.

It is aimed at blocking a requirement for most people to get
insurance coverage. However, legal experts say federal laws prevail
over state measures.

The Legislature passed a similar amendment last year, but the
Florida Supreme Court removed it from the ballot.



Six months after the Florida Supreme Court killed a similar proposal, state senators on Wednesday likely will approve a constitutional amendment that attacks a key part of the federal health overhaul.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, brought the politically charged measure to the Senate floor Tuesday, the first day of the annual legislative session. Senators are expected to vote on it Wednesday morning.

The proposed amendment is aimed at allowing Floridians to opt out of a future requirement that they buy health insurance or face financial penalties. The so-called "individual mandate" has been the most-controversial part of the health law that President Barack Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress approved last year.

"This is a simple idea about freedom,'' Haridopolos said during brief comments on the Senate floor.

Ordinarily, lawmakers would have used the floor time to ask questions or offer changes to the proposed amendment. But Democrats, who are badly outnumbered in the Senate, met Haridopolos with stony silence.

Minority Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, said later that Democrats didn't think it would be productive to ask questions. But she said they will argue against the proposed amendment before the vote Wednesday.

"We're saving our fire for debate tomorrow (Wednesday),'' Rich said.

The House has not started moving forward with its version of the proposed amendment. But the measure likely will sail through both chambers, which are dominated by Republicans who frequently criticize the federal health law.

If approved by the Legislature, the proposed amendment would go before voters during the 2012 elections. It would need approval from 60 percent of voters to be placed into the state constitution.

Lawmakers approved a similar proposed constitutional amendment last year. But the Supreme Court on Aug. 31 blocked it because of what it found was misleading wording in a ballot summary.

Haridopolos has removed that disputed wording from the new version of the bill, as he and other supporters look to make it immune to future legal challenges.

Under the federal law, almost all Americans will be required to have health insurance starting in 2014. But the proposed amendment would try to short-circuit that requirement for Floridians, saying that "a law or rule may not compel, directly or indirectly, any person or employer to purchase, obtain, or otherwise provide for health care coverage.''

Even if Florida voters ultimately approve the amendment, it remains unclear whether they will be able to opt out of the health mandate. That is because the amendment could be subject to a challenge under the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause.

The clause comes into play when state and federal laws conflict and generally favors federal laws.

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  • by jm on Mar 12, 2011 at 05:47 PM
    RE: John The 10th amendment restricts the powers of the federal government. The federal government has no right to make this kind of interstate mandate.
  • by jm on Mar 12, 2011 at 05:44 PM
    Re: Sherrie No, this is not the same. You only have to get car insurance if you make the choice to purchase and operate a car. Also, that is state law, not federal. RE: Herb You obviously have no clue as to what is going on. Glenn Beck and the people at Fox News have been providing well documented facts on this ill conceived and unconstitutional bill passed by the democrat party.
  • by pcapopka Location: apopka on Mar 9, 2011 at 05:39 PM
    This law has little to do with healthcare and why should certain states be granted immunity from the punishment clause while others have to pay for them. "PORTLAND, Maine - The federal government Tuesday granted Maine a waiver of a key provision in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, citing the likelihood that enforcement could destabilize the state's market for individual health insurance." Everyone needs to wake up and read the real Constitution.
  • by Kevin aka Reality Location: Monticello on Mar 9, 2011 at 01:28 PM
    Heres another way to look at it. IF we werent paying for all The Illegals , we could afford FREE care for EVERY American.
  • by Kevin aka Reality Location: Monticello on Mar 9, 2011 at 01:13 PM
    First off , it isnt practical to pay for Insurance if you are only offered a policy at work that costs over a third of your take home pay. Pay better wages and offer the Insurance for less. Second insurance for Americans is a Great thing , but NO BENEFITS for Illegals , if we do have to treat them ....send Mexico and the others the Bill at the end of the year. And finally keep "Gun Control" OUT of the Bill Period. Do this and regular people might be more apt to swallow this "Bill"
  • by just do it on Mar 9, 2011 at 01:00 PM
    Do anything that you can to throw as much in the way of OweBummerCare as you can. Tie it up in the courts for years if you have to. We do need to fix health care but not with this piece of trash that was pushed through by those idiots Reid, Pelosi and OweBummer.
  • by OFF COURSE on Mar 9, 2011 at 12:04 PM
    Why do you want the government to take over every aspect of your life? Next will be what kind of car you can drive, how much electricity you can use.... I will not be forced to buy health. I will not pay the penalty. Send me to jail and I also will not pay the fine. Next they take your land per the IRS's involvement (as stated by Obama). Obama said in his 2008 campaign speech that all people would have the same kind of health care as congress. Do you really believe that?
  • by Herb Location: Leon on Mar 9, 2011 at 08:03 AM
    Shame to the Republicans to undue the best interests of the nation and the states! You protect corporate wealth at the expense of the vulnerable, with delusional lies about govnm't takeover, while at the same time you wish to interfere with the patient/doctor relationship with your ultra sound legislation, etc.-hypocrites in the finest degree! If Orrin Hatch were to introduce mandated policy, you would have backed him up! Remember, this was the idea of the insurance companies. But your Beck meth chalkboard and your "We Spin, You Sin" Fox has misguided you to harm the innocent, the very ones God endears. Judgment is coming, conduct yourselves accordingly, if you still have a conscience.
  • by John Location: Milton on Mar 9, 2011 at 07:58 AM
    This is the kind of Crap we pay our elected leaders to engage. Federal Law overules anything a State does. So why spend time on symbolic postering. Do something constructive during these 60 days.
  • by Sherrie Location: Tallahassee on Mar 9, 2011 at 07:57 AM
    Why is this any different from requiring people to have car insurance?? PIP is required to protect one from uninsured drivers, why not have the same protection to keep one from having to pay for medical care for the uninsured. If you think you are not paying for them you are clueless as to how our current health care system works. Make the uninsured get insurance (they get to choose the coverage) and then they won't be crowding the emergency rooms and will be more like to get preventative care, which is generally less costly than treating a full blown medical issue. Insurance companies already control our care-they decide where you can be treated, what drugs you can take, what procedures you can have-I laugh at people who say the Plan passed by Congress takes away their choices in health care. The insurance and drug companies have already done that and are laughing all the way to the bank.
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