Editor’s Note – As quoted in the story below, the goal of the tea party movement is to ensure that our state lawmakers understand what the legislative priorities are for the movement going into the 2011 Legislative Session.
There’s been much talk about an ‘all the above’ approach toward protecting our rights from an overreaching federal government and, with an ironclad majority in Tallahassee and a supportive Governor, the Republican leadership in our state now have a great opportunity to show Floridians that every possible option will be pursued.
Along with the constitutional amendment that is already being pursued and the ongoing lawsuit against the federal government, which Florida is leading, this is yet another important step toward securing our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Tea Party Groups Want State Health-Care Opt-Out Law
President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the federal overhaul of health care, is under siege in Florida courts and the state Legislature, but those efforts aren’t enough for some tea party groups.
The Sunshine State is leading a lawsuit that hopes to strike down two of its main provisions, penalties for those who choose not to buy insurance and requirements that states accept more Medicaid recipients. State legislators are also trying to get a constitutional amendment placed on the 2012 ballot that would allow Floridians to opt out of the requirement to obtain health insurance.
Tea party groups across the state, however, also want the Florida Legislature to pass a substantive law similar to one enacted by Virginia, that prohibits the “individual mandate” penalizing those who do not obtain health insurance.
More than 40 activists representing 30 tea party organizations throughout the state sent a letter Monday to Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and other legislators, urging them to introduce a bill this legislative session to that effect. The letter applauds their efforts so far, but pushes them to do more.
“We respectfully ask that all expeditious measure (sic) be taken to introduce legislation to create Florida law, as was crafted so well in Virginia, to secure these protections by statute for Floridians as one of the very first legislative initiatives in the new session,” the letter states.
Robin Stublen, an activist with the Punta Gorda Tea Party, who helped draft the letter and organize support for it, said that the law is needed in addition to the other measures aimed at knocking down the law because the courts are unreliable and two years will have passed by the time the ballot measure comes up for a vote.
“Two years is a terrible amount of time to waste. I believe it’ll give more teeth to our court case as we go through the process,” Stublen said.
Virginia’s law, passed before the Affordable Care Act was signed, is already being used in its court case against the federal health care law. Judge Henry Hudson ruled earlier this month that the individual mandate portion of the law was unconstitutional. Oral arguments in Florida’s lawsuit, which 19 other states have joined, were heard last week.
Haridopolos has pushed the Health Care Freedom Act that would put the constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2012 as one of his top priorities, but tea party activists are worried that might get struck down by the courts, as a similar measure did before the 2010 elections.
“There’s always the possibility that we run into the same road blocks as last time,” said Tom Tillison of the Central Florida Tea Party Council, one of the signers of the letter.
Activists are very hopeful that legislators will work toward passing the law.
“I imagine that when groups that represent a very large portion of their constituency offer ideas, I’d imagine they’d look at it,” Stublen said.
The tea party’s advocacy for the law won’t stop at the letter, though. Activists are prepared to pressure legislators after the new year to introduce a bill.
“We want to make sure the Legislature understands where the tea party stands and what we want,” Tillison said.
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