Orange County Challenges Constitutionality of Measure H
Orange County officials Monday filed suit in county Superior Court seeking to overturn Measure H, the ballot initiative approved by 64.6% of voters on Nov. 7 that would allocate 80% of the county's tobacco settlement to health care services, the Orange County Register reports. The suit contends that Measure H violates the state constitution by "infringing on the spending authority of future boards of supervisors" (Orange County Register, 11/29). Orange County counsel Laurence Watson and Orange County Auditor-Controller David Sundstrom have previously questioned the constitutionality of the measure (California Healthline, 11/09). In August, a lawsuit by the county to block the ballot initiative was denied in Superior Court, but Judge Jack Mandel said that the county's argument was "credible and should be addressed by an appeals court" (Newton, Orange County Register, 11/22). Three out of the five Orange County supervisors support the current lawsuit. They want to use part of the tobacco settlement to pay down the county's "enormous" bankruptcy debt. J. Brennan Cassidy, the immediate past president of the Orange County Medical Association and one of Measure H's proponents, was named as the sole defendant. Contending that the lawsuit is a "waste [of] taxpayer dollars," Cassidy said, "I think they're just unhappy with the decision of the voters, intransigent in their position and unwilling to listen to reason" (Reyes, Los Angeles Times, 11/29). A hearing date has not been set (Orange County Register, 11/29).
Meanwhile, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) may join the Measure H defense team, the Orange County Register reports. Lockyer spokesperson Nathan Barankin said, "His inclination and intent is to weigh in, to the extent possible, on behalf of the voters of Orange County who approved Measure H" (Newton, Orange County Register, 11/22). State Sen. Joe Dunn (D-Santa Ana), an attorney, said he will join the legal defense team. Dunn was "disappointed" with the supervisors' decision to go ahead with the suit, adding that he could not recall such an "outright" legal battle between the board and voters (Los Angeles Times, 11/29).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.