On Friday, the Senate State Affairs Committee killed on a 7-2 vote House Bill 117, which would have prevented the operability of Obamacare in Idaho. It’s amazing to me that lawmakers in a state like Idaho would refuse to pass legislation to keep Obamacare from taking hold in the state. House Bill 117 was not radical, but it was two-fold. First it was an extension of last year’s Idaho Health Freedom Act and would have afforded employers, insurers and other healthcare providers protections not afforded under original Idaho Health Freedom Act. Second, the bill would have instructed state agencies to not implement the unconstitutional Obamacare law. This instruction – for the state agencies to not implement an unconstitutional overreach of the federal government is not new to Idaho either. In 2008, state lawmakers instructed the Idaho Transportation Department not to implement the REAL ID law, which would have required citizens of Idaho and the rest of the country to carry a national identification card.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC) a conservative legislative organization, is urging state legislatures to “decline to build the Obamacare edifice.” ALEC recommends that states stop promulgating rules that put Obamacare into place and stop accepting federal grants that are being awarded to the states to put the program in place.
The Senate State Affairs Committee had an opportunity to support a bill that would have directed agencies to stop receiving and spending federal money intended to put Obamacare into service. The committee had an opportunity to tell state agencies to not put in place the rules and regulations needed to make Obamacare work. Sens. Chuck Winder of Russ Fulcher sided with the legislation. Kudos to them. The bill failed on a voice vote. Sens. Curt McKenzie, Patti Anne Lodge, John McGee, Bart Davis, Brent Hill, Edgar Malepeai and Michelle Stennett opposed House Bill 117. The measure remains in the committee, so it is within the realm of possibilities that the Legislature could act.
Gov. Butch Otter signaled his support for the bill, and the Legislature disregarded the desires of the state’s chief executive. Regardless of what the Legislature does, the governor could join the chorus of his colleagues across the country who have unilaterally directed state agencies to not accept the federal government’s money to implement Obamacare and who have directed state employees to spend no time writing rules of needs to put the program in place. Otter could still wind up the hero Idahoans are looking for.
Some people, particularly in the Legislature, contend the only thing states can do in the event of an overreaching federal government is write letters to the editor and send nastygrams, called joint memorials, to Congress critical of the federal government’s actions.
The Founding Fathers fought a war for freedom. I find it difficult to believe that in moments like this, with our very freedom at stake, that the Founders really intended for states to sit back and implement the unconstitutional laws of the federal government. That’s exactly what’s happening. Unless the governor takes the action that the Legislature refused to, the state of Idaho will be responsible for the implementation of the very law that the state of Idaho is suing to block.