Carnahan's ballot language draws lawsuit, partisan debate

Jul 11, 2012

Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder has filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Robin Carnahan over the language used in a ballot initiative regarding health care exchanges. The Republican Lt. Governor is accusing the Democratic Secretary of State of trying to deliberately mislead voters.

The language approved by Carnahan asks if the law should 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.” Kinder says the language skews the ballot question’s true purpose, to bar the governor from creating an exchange by executive order. In response, a spokesperson for Carnahan described the lawsuit as, quote, “political theater in an election year."

And as Missouri’s Lt. Governor announced his lawsuit against Robin Carnahan, two Republican candidates for higher office sharply criticized the Democratic Secretary of State and the Attorney General over the health care exchange ballot language. House Speaker Pro-tem Shane Schoeller is running for Secretary of State. Tuesday, he called on the House Speaker to create a legislative committee to examine the ballot writing process and craft bills to change the current system: "We have a system where our Secretary of State passes the ballot language, and the Attorney General can approve, without accountability for the taxpayers…I am hopeful that by creating an interim committee we can begin the conversation on creating a fair, more accountable and transparent process.”

Also, Republican Attorney General candidate Ed Martin said incumbent Democrat Chris Koster should have rejected the language authorized by Carnahan. The Attorney General’s office has so far not responded to requests for a comment. A spokesman for Carnahan defends the health care ballot language and says they believe it will be upheld in court.