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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Issues With Issue 3

Posted By on Wed, Nov 2, 2011 at 12:00 PM

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With Election Day looming, all the hubbub has been about Issue 2 — the proposed repeal of Senate Bill 5, which affects public union negotiating.

Much less has been said about Issue 3, but it could have just as great an impact on Ohio — especially on the state Supreme Court’s docket and the billable hours of lawyers.

Issue 3 — which would repeal the federal affordable health-care bill — was proposed by the Tea Party last year. It’s likely to pass, in part because voters generally will have no idea what they’re voting on, thanks to vague ballot language that says it’s designed to “preserve the freedom of Ohioans to choose their health care,” which sounds universally wonderful enough.

They’ll have even less idea what the actual impact of the bill could be. If passed, it would bar changes to state health-care regulations made after March 19, 2010 — the date “Obamacare” passed. Among other things, recently passed laws affecting abortion would likely fizzle under the new law.

“What Tea Party backers of Issue 3 aren’t realizing is that [Issue 3’s language] is so broad, it’s going to stunt their own agenda,” says Janetta King, president and CEO of Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank. “It says the state cannot compel a person, employer, or provider to participate in a health-care system. Abortion is a great example. Providing an abortion is health care. The pro-choice community is going to have a very strong case to challenge the recently passed late-term abortion bill and the pending Heartbeat Bill.”

King believes pro-life advocates may try to use a loophole in the bill, which allows exceptions for “wrongdoing.”

“I’m not sure that would stand up in court,” says King. “‘Wrongdoing’ is not a legal term. The Tea Party rails against activist judges, but it has turned over a lot of power to judges to legislate these issues from the bench.” — Anastasia Pantsios

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