By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
ST. LOUIS — Secretary of State Robin Carnahan will not appeal a judge’s ruling that tossed out her health-care exchange ballot measure summary, removing any impediments to printing general election ballots.
Carnahan could not get her fellow Democrat, Attorney General Chris Koster, to file the appeal on behalf of her office.
Koster issued a statement that Cole Circuit Judge Daniel Green’s “summary more accurately reflects the legislative intent than does the secretary’s proposed language. My job is to call balls and strikes in an impartial manner. The argument is over.”
SOS spokeswoman Stacie Temple told Missouri Watchdog that Carnahan will certify the new language, which was written by top state Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, and send the information to local election authorities within the next week.
“At this point, no deadlines have passed that would delay the ballot printing process,” Temple said.
Missouri’s general election ballots cannot be printed, until the national parties certify their presidential candidates. Each has 10 days following their national conventions to complete that process.
“The latest the presidential nominees would be certified will be Sept. 17,” Temple said.
Federal and state laws require military and overseas absentee ballots to be ready by Sept. 22, while a Missouri law requires in-state absentee ballots to be prepared by Sept. 25.
Carnahan in a statement expressed her disappointment in Koster’s decision.
“The new summary language is incomplete, uninformative and a disservice to Missouri voters who must decide on the critical issue of how and when Missouri individuals, families and small businesses will have access to affordable health care,” she said.
The ballot proposal would prevent the governor from setting up the exchange, which is required by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and would require approval from lawmakers or voters to create the health insurance marketplace.
The summary that voters will see on Nov. 6 reads: “Shall Missouri Law be amended to prohibit the Governor, or any state agency, from establishing or operating state-based health insurance exchanges unless authorized by a vote of the people or by the Legislature?”
The original wording said: “Shall Missouri law be amended to deny individuals, families, and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care plans through a state-based health benefit exchange unless authorized by statute, initiative or referendum or through an exchange operated by the federal government as required by the federal health care act?”
Kinder said he was glad to see the ballot fight end.
“I am pleased that (Carnahan’s) attempt to mislead voters failed and that Missourians now will have a fair and balanced summary when they consider this important ballot issue in November,” he said in a statement.