This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



October 2004

Florida Proposed Amendment No. 8

I am so not doing enough of these fast enough. I’ll have to really work on the weekend. Anyway, it is lunch time, and I’m all woozy from prescription cough medicine (I’ve been sick for about a week now), so I figure I have a few minutes to do another one of these before trying to get my woozy head around finishing writing a couple of documents I have to write for work today… Anyway:


Current law allows medical doctors who have committed repeated malpractice to be licensed to practice medicine in Florida. This amendment prohibits medical doctors who have been found to have committed three or more incidents of medical malpractice from being licensed to practice medicine in Florida.

The direct financial impact on state and local governments resulting from the proposed initiative would be minimal. There will likely be additional costs to the state of less than $1 million per year, but these costs will be offset by licensure fees.

OK, but like a couple of others, this is the abbrivated ballot text, and to really judge this one needs to look at the full text…


a) Statement and Purpose:
Under current law, a medical doctor who has repeatedly committed medical malpractice in Florida or while practicing in other states or countries may obtain or continue to hold a professional license to practice medicine in Florida. The purpose of this amendment is to prohibit such a doctor from obtaining or holding a license to practice medicine in Florida.

b) Amendment of Florida Constitution:
Art. X, Fla. Const., is amended by inserting the following new section at the end thereof, to read:
“Section 20. Prohibition of Medical License After Repeated Medical Malpractice.
“a) No person who has been found to have committed three or more incidents of medical malpractice shall be licensed or continue to be licensed by the State of Florida to provide health care services as a medical doctor.
“b) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
“i) The phrase “medical malpractice” means both the failure to practice medicine in Florida with that level of care, skill, and treatment recognized in general law related to health care providers’ licensure, and any similar wrongful act, neglect, or default in other states or countries which, if committed in Florida, would have been considered medical malpractice.
“ii) The phrase “found to have committed” means that the malpractice has been found in a final judgment of a court or law, final administrative agency decision, or decision of binding arbitration.”

c) Effective Date and Severability:
This amendment shall be effective on the date it is approved by the electorate. If any portion of this measure is held invalid for any reason, the remaining portion of this measure, to the fullest extent possible, shall be severed from the void portion and given the fullest possible force and application.

Some of my questions on the measure based on the abbreaviated text were answered by reading the full text. Anybody voting on these things should always read the full text and not rely on the summaries… Also, this is an ammendment to an existing document, so one needs to look at the current language too…

OK, WTF… According to the copy of the Florida Constitution on the official Florida Senate website, there is ALREADY an Article X Section 20 (Dealing with “Workplaces without tabacco smoke”), whereas this says Section 20 will be added onto the end of Article X… something is screwy here. Perhaps a couple of the old sections were repealed and the website hasn’t been updated yet? I don’t know, but I don’t like this!

OK, lets assume this is just some numbering snafu, and I just don’t have a current copy of the constitution, even if it is on the official government website… lets look at a couple other things about the ammendment…

But before I do that, I just have to say, Article X is “MISCELLANEOUS”. What kind of structure is that? This is a constitution! There shouldn’t be a section like that! And Article X Section 21 is “Limiting cruel and inhumane confinement of pigs during pregnancy.” Excuse me??? Now, I’m not saying that I advocate cruel and inhumane confinement of pregnant pigs, and this might very well make a great normal LAW. But it has absolutely no place in a CONSTITUTION.

Constitutions (national, state, whatever) are supposed to at a high level define the basic structures of government, how they interact with each other, how offices are filled… that sort of thing. And perhaps basic definitions of rights and responsibilities. (Such as the Bill of Rights in the US constitution.) Issues of specific governmental policies on specific narrowly drawn issues have no place in a constituation. Those types of issues should be resolved through the normal legislative process as implemented by the executive and interpreted by the courts. To put them in a constitutional document is to corrupt the value of the constitution and to improperly elevate policy issues into the basic structure of government. This is wrong. And will effect my vote on this issue as well… and perhaps most of the proposed ammendments…

OK, now back to this specific amendment. Basically it imposes a three strikes and you are out rule on doctors with regard to malpractice. I was worried when I just read the summary about just how one was determined to have committed malpractice, if there were mechanisms for appeal, etc. The full amendment defines that a bit more. A “final judgement” is needed, meaning that an appeals process is available before that point. However, there is still no mechanism here for evaluating the comparative seriousness of incidents. That is troubling. Not all cases of malpractice are equal, some are worse than others. Also the opponants arguments about this chasing away doctors does have some weight, but my main concern on this item from a pure policy point of view is simply that it is arbitrary, and takes choice away from the individual, and instead mandates a puinshment for the doctors. I’m not saying I’m for bad doctors continuing to practice and hurt people… I just don’t think this is the correct way to deal with it.

I’d be for a policy requiring full disclosure, so you could look up a Doctor’s history and see exactly what issues they had in the past, and then make an educated decision. But I don’t want the government making that call for me. So on a pure policy basis, I would be against this.

However, and I take this to be even more important, as I indicated above… this is a policy issue which can and should be decided by the legislature. This is NOT something that should be included in a State Constitution. (Although I understand the way the initiative process is structured… it can apperantly only ammend the constitution, not other laws, makes this very tempting.) Matters of governmental policy, rather than governmental structure and organization, have no place in the constitution. If laws need to be passed on this subject, the legislature should do this. This is not the right place or method. Therefore…

My vote is: NO

Lunch is over. More later.

Looking over the next few ballot questions though… the next 7 of them are all constitutional ammendments. And they ALL seem to relate to policy issue rather than structural issues. So I may already know my vote. But on each one I will make a seperate evaluation on the policy issue and state what my opinion there is. But, even if I am for the policy, I most likely will be AGAINST the ammendment… simply because policy issues should not be corrupting a state constitution. That is not what they are for. Or at least not what they SHOULD be for… even if that is how they are obviously being used. That is what the legislative branch is for. (And in some cases the executive and the courts.)

Proposed Amendment No 6 is slightly different, but I’ll talk about that one when I get to that one…

Also, I am strongly reconsidering my earlier stated position on Brevard County Referendum 2. I’d said my position was already weak. I may be about to flip. If I do, I will of course post an update. :-)

Hmmm… what I’ve been talking about here may also apply to the Brevard County Charter Amendment 3. I’ll have to think about that one a little too. If I change my mind on it, I’ll be sure to post about it. I’m sure you all will be waiting in great suspense.

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