Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough to provide health-care surrogate forms

TAMPA — Hillsborough County was the outlier two months ago when commissioners rejected creating a domestic partnership registry even as governments throughout the region pass them without controversy.

On Wednesday, commissioners approved what can't quite be considered even a half-measure of compromise, though it was a gesture nonetheless.

Commissioners voted 4-3 to produce a packet of forms that people can fill out under existing state law that provide unmarried couples at least one of the protections registries provide, and to make them available in libraries.

The forms allow people to designate anyone as a health-care surrogate, empowered to make medical decisions for them if they become incapacitated.

But the packet won't include anything pertaining to the five or six other rights typically granted with registries, including the ability to visit an unmarried partner in the hospital or make education decisions for a loved one's child. The registries are promoted by gay-rights advocates in particular as a form of protections not afforded them due to prohibitions against same-sex marriages, though they apply to unmarried heterosexual couples, too.

"This will ensure that citizens will have affordable and easy access to already existing rights," said Commissioner Al Higginbotham, who offered the proposal. "I'm optimistic this approach will provide a meaningful solution for Hillsborough County residents."

His proposal was backed by Chairman Ken Hagan and commissioners Victor Crist and Sandy Murman, who each rejected a registry proposal in January and offered no explanation for their votes Wednesday.

The other commissioners, Kevin Beckner, Mark Sharpe and Les Miller, while welcoming the gesture, said it fell short.

At Beckner's request, commissioners heard from lawyer Mary Meeks of Orange County, who has helped win passage of domestic registries there and around the state. She said Higginbotham's proposal does nothing to further other protections to unmarried couples granted by registries. The forms he offered should only be executed after consulting a lawyer, she said.

The packet is tentatively scheduled to come back to commissioners for final approval in April.

In other action, the board:

• Approved a contract with WellCare Health Plans internal auditor Michelle Leonhardt, who will take on that role for the County Commission. The two-year contract will pay Leonhardt $150,009 annually. She replaces fired auditor Jim Barnes.

* Formally approved setting aside $2 million requested by Commissioner Mark Sharpe to promote events and other activities that assist start-up technology-based businesses.

• Approved former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio as this year's recipient of the annual Ellsworth G. Simmons Good Government Award recipient. She'll be presented the award next month.

Hillsborough to provide health-care surrogate forms 03/20/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 7:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.

  2. Police: Man tries to lure child with puppy in Polk County

    Crime

    Times staff

    HAINES CITY — A man was arrested Sunday after he tried to entice a young girl into his camper to view a puppy, according to police.

    Dale Collins, 63, faces a charge of luring or enticing a child under the age of 12. [Photo courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Editorial: Coming together to reduce car thefts

    Editorials

    The simple, knee-jerk response to the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County would be to crack down on offenders with an increased police presence and stiffer sentences. Thankfully, local community leaders did not stop there. As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its 
As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its "Hot Wheels" investigation into youth car thefts, a variety of ideas from multiple directions increases the odds of actually solving the cause and not just treating the symptoms.

  4. Editorial: Floridians' health care now at risk in Washington

    Editorials

    The health care for millions of Floridians is now at risk. The U.S. Senate's dramatic vote Tuesday to begin debate on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with no idea what will happen is a dangerous gamble with American lives and the national economy. Barring an unexpected bipartisan compromise, a handful of …

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dramatically returned to the Senate for the first time since his brain cancer was diagnosed and cast the key vote that enabled Vice President Mike Pence to break the 50-50 tie and allow the health care debate to proceed.
  5. Former Marine from Florida dies fighting for Kurdish militia

    ORLANDO — A former Marine who secretly traveled to Syria earlier this year to battle the Islamic State was killed while fighting for a Kurdish militia, his father said Tuesday.

    David Taylor, with his father David Taylor Sr., was killed earlier this month in Syria while fighting for a Kurdish militia.