Hillsborough County Commissioners on a 4-3 vote today agreed to provide a booklet called “Important Life Decisions,” composed of Florida statutes relating to who can make health care decisions.
Commissioner Al Higginbotham, who in January voted against creating a domestic partner registry, said his decision to collect the statutes and make them available to the public came out of the debate over the registry.
“This packet allows a person to designate another person of their choice to make important life decisions in the event it is needed,” Higginbotham said.
County Attorney Chip Fletcher said the county would not have any liability in providing the booklet but that people attempting to use the state laws would have problems.
“There is no magic bullet that is going to solve these complicated decisions for everyone when these diverse factual situations come up,” Fletcher said.
Commissioner Kevin Beckner sought to pass a motion that would continue the discussion on domestic partner registries, which allow people in unmarried but committed relationships to make important life decisions for their partners.
The county rejected creating a domestic partner registry in January. The city of Tampa has a registry, as do other large cities around Florida.
Beckner wanted the county staff to research how other cities and counties handle rights for domestic partners, which would ensure the issue would resurface at a future meeting. He received support from commissioners Les Miller and Mark Sharpe, but Higginbotham made a substitute motion that the only action that would take place would be publishing the booklet containing the statutes.
Republican commissioners Ken Hagan, Sandra Murman and Victor Crist voted for Higginbotham’s substitute motion. Democrats Beckner and Miller, and Republican Sharpe, voted no.