Activists across the country will be watching this year’s Florida elections for three reasons: Gov. Jeb Bush is running for reelection, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris aspires to be elected to Congress and, three, health care advocates hope to place a non-binding measure on this year’s ballot calling for an amendment to the state’s constitution mandating a universal health care system based on the proposition “Everybody in, nobody out.”

Among those involved in the campaign for the amendment is the Labor Party (LP) of Alachua County. The party says the effort will focus on a three-year, three-step campaign aimed at getting the measure on the ballot in 2004. In a leaflet explaining the campaign, the LP says: “We believe the key to passing the amendment lies in consistently building momentum and demonstrating the overwhelming popular support for universal health care through non-binding referenda.”

The statement called for “reconvening an alliance” to carry on the massive voter education and signature campaign needed to win health care for all. “Please join us,” it concluded.

The Florida State AFL-CIO has also joined in the campaign, with a resolution at its 2001 convention lending “strong support” to the efforts to encourage non-binding referenda on universal health care on ballots in several Florida counties for the 2002 elections as part of the effort “to build a campaign to place a universal health care constitutional amendment on the 2004 Florida ballot.”

The federation promised to “collect a portion of the 480,000 signatures required to put the amendment on the 2004 ballot.” If approved, the measure would effectively eliminate insurance companies and HMOs from the state’s health care system.

Meanwhile, the national campaign for universal, affordable and comprehensive health care came to New York with an appearance of Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and principal sponsor of House Concurrent Resolution 99.

The resolution, introduced on April 4 with the support of 28 members of Congress, “Direct[s] Congress to enact legislation by October 2004 that provides access to comprehensive health care for all Americans.” Others appearing with Conyers included Democratic Reps. Major Owens, Jerrold Nadler, Anthony Weiner and Gregory Meeks, all from New York City.

The flyer calling for universal health care includes language that can be useful to other activists: “Polls show most Americans favor universal health care. In all other industrial countries this sentiment led to creating publicly controlled health systems that have less paperwork, guaranteed coverage, and overall better quality care then we have in the United States.”

The Florida resolution can serve as a model for activists in other states. Copies can be obtained by sending an e-mail to flaflcio.org or by calling (850) 224-6926.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org

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