JEFFERSON CITY -- Ballot summaries for two measures that will appear on the November ballot were released today by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.
The first measure would allow the governor to appoint a majority of members of the commission that nominates finalists for openings on the state Supreme Court and state Court of Appeals. Carnahan's approved ballot summary asks voters:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to change the current nonpartisan selection of supreme court and court of appeals judges to a process that gives the governor increased authority to:
• appoint a majority of the commission that selects these court nominees; and
• appoint all lawyers to the commission by removing the requirement that the governor’s appointees be nonlawyers?
There are no estimated costs or savings expected if this proposal is approved by voters.
The second measure will allow voters to decide whether the governor should be allowed to set up an online marketplace for patients to shop for insurance policies. Health care exchanges are a key provision of President Barack Obama's federal health reform law.
Carnahan's approved ballot summary asks voters:
Shall Missouri law 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 or through an exchange operated by the federal government as required by the federal health care act?
No direct costs or savings for state and local governmental entities are expected from this proposal. Indirect costs or savings related to enforcement actions, missed federal funding, avoided implementation costs, and other issues are unknown.
Both measures were approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly, which could have written the ballot summaries itself.
Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, panned Carnahan's ballot summaries and said the Democratic secretary of state has "stopped even pretending to be fair."
"She has released incredibly biased ballot language in a transparent attempt to unfairly influence Missouri voters in the voting booth and achieve her desired political outcome," Smith said.
Ryan Hobart, communications director for the secretary of state, defended the summaries.
“This office has always followed our legal obligation to provide Missourians with fair and sufficient summaries of ballot initiatives, and this summary is no different,“ he said.
The measures will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.