Legislators want state vote on insurance mandate

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – Two Republican legislators want Mississippians to be able to vote on at least a portion of the health care package recently signed into law.
Reps. Alex Monsour, R-Vicksburg, and Steven Palazzo, R-Biloxi, have filed an initiative with the secretary of state’s office to try to get on the ballot a proposal that would prevent Mississippians from being mandated to buy health insurance.
The new health care bill, which expands coverage, also requires people to have health insurance or face a fine.
It is not clear how the initiative – if it is approved by voters – would trump the federal law. But along similar lines, various groups, including Gov. Haley Barbour, are filing lawsuits questioning the constitutionality of mandating people have health insurance coverage.
Monsour said the goal is to get the required number of signatures to have the issue paced on the November 2011 ballot. But to do that, the signatures of nearly 90,000 registered voters will have to be collected by the fall.
“We have a short window of time,” Monsour said. “If we don’t meet that, we will get it on the 2012 ballot.”
Two initiatives already are slated for the November 2011 ballot – one requiring people to have a photo identification to vote and another stating that life begins at fertilization. Others might be on the ballot, such as a proposal to prohibit the government from taking private land for the use of another private entity.