Lockyer Defends Measure H in Orange County Hearing
Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) said yesterday that the Orange County Board of Supervisors' attempt to strike down Measure H was an "arrogant" attempt to override the will of the voters and constituted an "abuse" of authority, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports. Testifying before Orange County Superior Court Commissioner Jane Myers, Lockyer asked that the county's lawsuit against Measure H be dismissed. The ballot initiative passed overwhelmingly in November and calls for the county to spend at least 80% of the $950 million it will receive from the national tobacco settlement on health care programs. County supervisors, however, want to spend only 60% of the settlement on health care initiatives and use the rest to pay down the county's bankruptcy debt (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/24).
Lockyer, whose appearance marked the first time he has appeared in court during his tenure as attorney general, said the case carried "statewide significance" and that he had a "duty" to "aggressively protect" the settlement, which was negotiated in part by the federal government. "At the national conferences of attorney generals we are regularly lectured by the federal government not to spend tobacco money on things other than health, like for roads or to fix potholes, because the federal government may rescind the agreement," he said (Reyes, Los Angeles Times, 1/24). He added, "I think [the lawsuit] is an abuse of [the supervisors'] authority. The preeminent lawmaker, the people, have spoken." County officials counter that "Measure H is unlawful because supervisors -- not voters -- have the legal right to determine how to spend county money" (McKim, Orange County Register, 1/24). Myers "continued the hearing to Feb. 14," and the Los Angeles Times reports that she "left attorneys with the impression that she might rule on the merits of Measure H itself and not merely on the constitutionality of the county's lawsuit" (Los Angeles Times, 1/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.