Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida health care ballot measure hits roadblock

TALLAHASSEE — A GOP effort to change the Florida Constitution to thwart President Barack Obama's health care overhaul hit a roadblock Thursday amid questions about its constitutionality.

In a move celebrated by the tea party movement, a number of Republican state lawmakers want to ask voters to change the state Constitution to prohibit the federal government from mandating health care coverage.

Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican, labels it "health care freedom" and read a tea party manifesto as he introduced the ballot amendment (HJR37) in a House committee.

"It should be offensive to people who love liberty," Plakon said about the recently approved federal law.

More than 20 states are considering measures to address the federal health care law but Florida has emerged as a leading opponent after Attorney General Bill McCollum filed a lawsuit against the federal government last month on behalf of 15 states.

But a top House Republican, Rep. Bill Galvano of Bradenton, questioned the proposed amendment on legal grounds, arguing the state's Constitution is not the proper place to make a statement against the federal government.

Galvano, a lawyer and rules committee chairman, proposed an amendment to prohibit state lawmakers and local elected officials from mandating health care coverage in Florida. "The state Constitution is not the province to amend the federal law," he said.

The bill's sponsor reluctantly accepted the change but other leading Republicans on the committee — including Majority Leader Adam Hasner and Rep. Sandy Adams, a candidate for Congress — objected.

The dispute left the bill indefinitely postponed. It's the most significant obstacle to a measure that won approval in three prior House committees and three previous Senate committees. If it makes it to the House or Senate floor, it would need three-fifths approval to make the 2010 ballot, where it would need 60 percent of voters' approval.

Galvano said later that he supported McCollum's lawsuit, saying it was a more appropriate avenue to challenge the federal law.

Democratic Rep. Evan Jenne of Dania Beach said the suggested changes wouldn't make the measure "incendiary enough" for most Republicans.

John Frank can be reached at or (850) 224-7263.

Florida health care ballot measure hits roadblock 04/08/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 8, 2010 10:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Quiet college dropout turned bomber: Who was Salman Abedi?


    LONDON — He was quiet and withdrawn, a college dropout who liked soccer — and, some say, showed alarming signs of being radicalized years before he walked into a pop concert at Britain's Manchester Arena and detonated a powerful bomb, killing himself and 22 others.

    Salman Abedi was identified by British authorities as the man behind Monday’s attack.
  2. Soldiers launch attacks in besieged Philippine city


    MARAWI, Philippines — Backed by tanks and rocket-firing helicopters, Philippine troops launched "precision attacks" Thursday to clear extremists linked to the Islamic State group from a city that has been under siege since a raid that failed to capture one of Asia's most-wanted militants.

    Soldiers fire at enemy positions Thursday while trying to clear the city of Marawi, Philippines, of armed militants.
  3. Back to .500, Rays feel ready to roll (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Who wants to be mediocre? Middling? Average? Run-of-the-mill?

    Rays catcher Jesus Sucre tags out the Angels’ Mike Trout trying to score from second base after a perfect peg from rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. in the first inning.
  4. Seminole man accused of fracturing 8-month-old baby's leg


    Deputies arrested a Seminole man Thursday after he fractured an 8-month-old baby's bones, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

    Gary G. Gibeault of Seminole was arrested on a charge of aggravated child abuse.
  5. St. Petersburg's ballooning sewage debt could threaten credit rating (but there's a Hail Mary plan to avoid that)

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city needs a lot of money — $435 million over the next five years — most of it to fix its leaky sewer pipes and aging sewer plants.

    In September 2016, signs at St. Petersburg’s North Shore Park warned people to stay out of the water due to contamination from sewage released by the city’s overwhelmed sewer system. The City Council on Thursday learned that the very expensive fix for its sewage woes could hamper the city’s credit rating. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]