It appears Reps. Vito Barbieri, R-Hayden Lake, and Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, are pretty determined in their opposition to federal health care reforms.
Despite an opinion from the state attorney general’s office declaring the concept unconstitutional, the two lawmakers successfully introduced legislation centered on the idea of nullification of reforms. Barbieri and Boyle brought the bill before the House State Affairs Committee in the Capitol Wednesday.
The measure passed on a 15-4 party-line vote, with Republicans supporting it and Democrats opposing.
The bill, in a nutshell, would make the federal health care reforms passed in March of 2010 essentially “null and void” within the boundaries of Idaho. Additionally, the act would prohibit state workers from collaborating with the feds on any measures related to reforms and would also prevent Idaho from entering into any agreements having to do with reforms.
Anyone found in violation of the nullification act could face up to six months in jail or a fine of $1,000.
Barbieri, in his address to the panel members, said that even if the bill does not pass, he wants to “open the discussion” about the Idaho Legislature becoming a “rubber stamp” for all federal policies and programs. He described the health reforms as “wildly unpopular” in Idaho, and said that the federal law oversteps the bounds of the commerce and general welfare clauses in the U.S. Constitution.
The act also calls into question the power of federal courts to rule on the case because of a potential conflict of interest. Barbieri said that because the federal government would be a party versus the state if the matter ended up in federal court, the outcome could be suspect. “It would be hard to imagine an arm of the federal government ruling against itself,” he said.
Opposition came from Democrats, but a few Republicans seemed to have reservations about the act. Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, voted in favor of the legislation, but asked the sponsors to provide a copy of the attorney general’s opinion of nullification in the next hearing.
Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, also questioned the legitimacy of the bill because of the lack of recognition of the judicial process. Luker, a sponsor of a 2010 bill that challenged a part of the health reforms in court, said that the nullification bill is “significantly different” than the anti-health reform he sponsored. Luker voted for the bill, but said he is “troubled about the concept of nullification.”
There were others who supported the measure as a way to push back against the federal government and excessive regulation. Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, who also heads the House Health and Welfare Committee, said that the federal reforms put a heavy burden on Idaho’s Medicaid system. “The federal health law is a huge expansion of Medicaid,” said McGeachin adding that states are “choking from federal mandates and regulations.”
The bill with receive further hearings in upcoming weeks. The measure has 16 sponsors in the House and five in the Idaho Senate.
Note: Idaho Freedom Foundation director Wayne Hoffman has been actively involved in creating the nullification legislation. Hoffman and the foundation also provided books about nullification to each lawmaker on the panel prior to the hearing.
IdahoReporter.com is published by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, though Hoffman does not direct content of the news site.