1. Archive


Four say the health care amendment's summary is a "bait and switch."

TALLAHASSEE - A lawyer for four voters challenging a proposed state constitutional amendment on health care calls it a "bait and switch."

The ballot summary for Amendment 9 promises things not even mentioned in the amendment itself, Mark Herron said in an interview.

He filed the Circuit Court lawsuit in Tallahassee last month. It seeks to remove the amendment from the Nov. 2 ballot.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the proposal in reaction to the national health care overhaul.

The amendment would block the Democratic plan in Florida if it could, but legal experts and even one of its sponsors have said it can't do that because federal law is supreme over state law.

Instead, the amendment would prevent the state from passing a similar law by prohibiting Floridians from being forced to obtain insurance coverage or be penalized if they don't.

Herron noted the ballot summary says in part that the amendment would "ensure access to health care services without waiting lists, protect the doctor-patient relationship, guard against mandates that don't work."

"None of those subjects are specifically addressed in the amendment," Herron said. "It appears if the amendment is a bait and switch or flying under false colors and using political rhetoric to engender votes."

State law requires ballot summaries to be clear and accurate.

Herron said he expects to get a court hearing by the end of July. He said the case likely will be appealed no matter which way the decision goes, eventually reaching the Florida Supreme Court.

Herron also has done legal work for the Florida Democratic Party, but it is not a plaintiff in this case.

One of Herron's clients is Mona Mangat of Pinellas County.

The others are Diana Demarest and Louisa McQueeney from Palm Beach County and Gracie Fowler of Orange County.