Normally I wouldn’t publish such a long press release, but Paul Phillip’s response to the veto of HB 1143 is so articulate and such a good read, I am compelled to share it with my readers:
I take issue with the many candidates and politicians glomming on to Charlie Crist’s veto of House Bill 1143 (HB 1143) and focusing only on the Ultrasound issue. Their arguments are often weak, unfounded, and illogical, wreaking of emotionalism and conjecture. It is apparent that we have elected, and continue to elect, grandstanders who ignore Constitutional principles and continue to create a schizophrenic body of law as a result.
The issues, which were never debated, are much more complex than our elected officials or candidates have addressed today in their barrage of accusatory statements and misleading rhetoric. As such, I thought I would provide a statement.
First, prior to the late, undebated insertion of the Ultrasound language, House Bill 1143 went a long way to repeal obsolete and often duplicative provisions in nursing home licensing and related statutes.
Many of the changes HB 1143 made to the administrative rules would have resulted in a streamlined and more cost-efficient system, in a state that desperately needs to prepare for increased nursing home demand. Now, these changes will not take effect.
Second, any bill introduced should address only one idea, according to the Florida Constitution. Bundling disparate subjects into a single bill invites confusion, and I would argue, intentionally encourages it. When a politician votes for or against a bill with multiple subjects, it is impossible to discern why. In the case of HB 1143, a vote for or against the bill could have been a vote for or against one of the three, completely separate issues contained within. This is political a trick and nothing else. We should, as our Constitution requires, demand bills like HB 1143 only address single subjects. It increases the true transparency of the vote and clarifies a politician’s reasons for, or against, a law. HB 1143 may, or may not, have withstood Constitutional muster by the courts on this issue; however, that is debatable. What is not debatable is that some politico will produce ads saying that “Representative so-and-so voted against HB 1143, a bill which would have reduced Medicare expenses and streamlined the nursing home system” or “Senator so-and-so is not pro-life.” In the end, it is a charade that wastes time and money.
Finally, we must remember, Article I, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution provides Floridians with a higher degree of protection from government intrusion than the U.S. Constitution, since Florida’s Declaration of Rights include an express, freestanding Right of Privacy Clause. Together, the Declaration of Rights protects each individual from the unwarranted governmental intrusion into the private affairs of our lives; and, the Supreme Court of Florida has stated: “These Declarations of Rights . . . say to arbitrary and autocratic power, from whatever official quarter it may advance to invade these vital rights . . .’Thus far shalt thou come, but no farther.’” State ex rel. Davis v. City of Stuart, 97 Fla. 69, 102-03, 120 So. 335.
Whether or not the Ultrasound bill would have withstood the enhanced privacy requirement contained in the Declaration of Rights is also debatable. The law, more than likely, would have needed to withstand strict scrutiny, the highest level of review; and, the State would have to had to show that the law would further a compelling State interest through the least intrusive means. I am not a doctor; however, from what I understand to be a rather significant difference between first trimester ultrasounds and second/third trimester ultrasounds, the first trimester ultrasound method would definitely be more “intrusive” by my definition. As an attorney, I would have to say HB 1143 would have failed on this issue.
Our leaders continue to ignore the Oath of Office, which is to uphold and defend the Constitutions of both Florida and the United States of America. It’s time for us all to look behind the sound bites, study the facts, and come to our own conclusions.