Wall Street Journal columnist Stephen Moore reveled this weekend in the fact that he could “add Colorado to the list of states that are saying to ObamaCare: not here, thank you.” Moore reported that Colorado Secretary of State Bernie Buescher certified that the “Colorado Health Care Freedom Act” had qualified for the November ballot.
Moore got a lot wrong in his opening two sentences. The proposal, sponsored by the Health Care Choice for Colorado Issue Committee spearheaded by Independence Institute President Jon Caldara, has not been given the green light by Buescher. It is not called the “Health Care Freedom Act.” It is called the “Right to Health Care Choice” ballot initiative or Amendment 63. It is not an act because it is a ballot initiative, which is partly why it remains tied up at the Secretary of State’s office, because a lawsuit attached to the proposal having to do with signature gatherers has meant the signatures required to land it on the ballot remain uncertified.
Welcome to Colorado Stephen Moore!
“Wow,” said Secretary of State Communications Director Rich Coolidge upon hearing the news reported by the Wall Street Journal that the initiative had been approved for the ballot. “Well I guess we don’t have to do anymore work then, do we?”
He was being facetious. Coolidge would not even provide a rough estimate for when the signatures for the Health Care Choice initiative might be certified. “Caldara’s got a lawsuit attached to that,” he said.
Mike Krause, Director of Operations at the Independence Institute, was also surprised by the Journal report, at least at first.
“Really? It has been certified?” he asked. “You’d think I would know that before the Wall Street Journal. Oh wait, are you talking about the Steve Moore piece? Oh yeah, well, no, I don’t know about that. I don’t think we’ve been certified.”
Last Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Philip Brimmer issued a preliminary injunction (pdf) on a case brought by plaintiffs including Caldara, who argued that state laws governing the ballot initiative process passed in 2009 infringed upon civil rights by, in effect, hobbling citizens’ ability to use the process to make laws.
The latest action by Judge Brimmer may have cleared the way for the Secretary of State to continue work certifying the signatures and approving the initiatives for the ballot.
Messages seeking confirmation as to where exactly the suit stands were not immediately answered.
At the end of July, Caldara submitted more than 130,000 signatures to the Secretary of State in support of the proposal. Roughly 76,000 of those have to be certified as valid for the proposal to make it onto the ballot. The Secretary of State routinely throws out thousands of signatures as invalid.