virginia

UPDATE: Cuccinelli Sues over Federal Health Care Legislation

BOB BROWN/TIMES-DISPATCHThe challenge by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was filed immediately after President Barack Obama signed the health care legislation. WIRE AND STAFF REPORTS Published: March 23, 2010 Updated: March 23, 2010 Source: Courtesy of Richmond Times Dispatch

Virginia’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s health care overhaul law.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed the suit today in U.S. District Court immediately after President Barack Obama signed the landmark measure into law. Cuccinelli, a Republican, and other conservatives claim the law represents an unconstitutional overreach of federal authority.

“Congress lacks the political will to fund comprehensive health care in this way because taxes above those already provided in (the legislation) would produce too much opposition,“ his suit states. “The alternative, which was also a centerpiece of the failed Clinton administration health care proposal, is to fund universal health care in part by making healthy young adults and other rationally uninsured individuals cross-subsidize older and less healthy citizens.“ ...

READ THE FULL TEXT at TimesDispatch.com

Va. Health Bill Could Foil Obama Proposal, State Questions Constitutionality

By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff | March 8, 2010Source: Courtesy of The Boston Globe.com

RICHMOND - Here in the former capital of the Old Confederacy, where resistance to the supremacy of federal law has a long and tortuous history, a new battle is being waged over a question that could undercut a key part of President Obama’s health care proposal: whether Washington can require that most Americans have health insurance.

The Virginia Legislature this week is poised to become the first state to pass legislation that says citizens cannot be required to have medical insurance.

Dozens of other states are considering similar measures, possibly setting the stage for one of the greatest tests of federal power over the states since the civil rights era.

If states are allowed to opt out of the mandate, the foundation of Obama’s effort would be undermined, turning the nascent revolt here into one with national implications.

The debate goes far beyond a disagreement with the approach to health care coverage taken in Massachusetts.

Rather, Virginia’s lawmakers are focused on constitutional questions and the power of states to run their own affairs.

“The administration is trying to shift from a government by social compact, agreement between elected officials and citizens, to a government where the leaders tell the subjects what to do,’’ said Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican and chief sponsor of the measure. “That is not what the American Revolution was about.’’

Versions of the bill have passed the Virginia House and Senate, with final passage considered all but certain. The Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, supports the measure.

READ THE FULL TEXT at THE BOSTON GLOBE

Virginia First State to Challenge Federal Health Insurance Mandate

Source: The Washington ExaminerBy: Barbara Hollingsworth Local Opinion Editor 03/05/10 1:20 PM EST

Congress hasn’t even passed Obamacare yet, but if and when it does, Virginia’s General Assembly has already fired the first round in what could be a major legal showdown with Washington over the limits of federal power.

On Thursday, the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere became the first state to enact legislation that prohibits the federal government from forcing its citizens to purchase government-approved health insurance. The measure was sponsored by two Northern Virginians - State Senator Jill Vogel, R-Warrenton, and Del. Bob Marshall, R-Manassas - who also co-signed a Feb. 24 letter to President Obama protesting state legislators’ exclusion from his recent health care summit.

In an ominous sign for the president’s top domestic priority, five Democrats in the Virginia Senate joined 18 Republicans to vote for the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act in a state Obama won handily less than 18 months ago. They were, perhaps, influenced by the 2,400 grassroots activists who trekked to Richmond last month to oppose federally mandated insurance coverage.

A constitutional amendment passed earlier in Arizona, but has yet to be approved by voters. It will be on the ballot in November.

Legislators in more than 30 other states are also considering similar bills based on the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Freedom of Choice in Health Care model.

The Tenth Amendment Center has a map of pending health care "nullification" bills that challenge the federal government’s jurisdiction based on its reading of the Constitution.

So even if Obamacare passes, this brewing constitutional battle could delay enactment for quite some time.

Virginia House, Senate now Must Reconcile Budget Bills

TYLER WHITLEY AND JEFF E. SCHAPIRO TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITERSPublished: February 26, 2010 Updated: February 26, 2010 Source: Courtesy of Richmond Times Dispatch

The House of Delegates and Virginia Senate easily approved budget bills yesterday, but the hard part, trying to reach agreement on widely different bills, lies ahead.

The two bodies now have about two weeks to fashion a budget on which they can agree before the scheduled March 13 adjournment.

After almost four hours of partisan wrangling, the House passed its budget bill 61-38, with all the Republicans and two independents voting for it and all Democrats voting against.

The Senate plowed through its budget-balancing plan in about an hour, approving the package 30-10.

"I've seen some difficult budgets but never as tough as this one," said Sen. Charles J. Colgan, D-Prince William, a 34-year veteran.

Only Republicans voted against the measure. They included two from the Richmond area, Stephen H. Martin of Chesterfield County and Ryan T. McDougle of Hanover County.

In the House, Del. Lacey E. Putney, I-Bedford, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, acknowledged the difficulty in making $4 billion in cuts to balance the budget.

"However, I believe that the budget before us today strikes a sensible balance between meeting the core commitments that we as politicians like to talk about and the burden placed on the taxpayers who must foot the bill."

READ THE FULL TEXT at TimesDispatch.com

Bills Would Limit Federal Power

Date published: 1/18/2010 WRITTEN BY CHELYEN DAVIS

Source: Courtesy of Fredricksburg Free Lance Star

RICHMOND--Last year's "tea parties" and health care town halls gave voice to a groundswell of concerns about federal government spending and encroachment into people's lives.

Now those concerns are finding voice in state legislation aimed at limiting the federal government's power.

Several members of the Virginia House of Delegates, including Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, have submitted bills that aim, in various ways, to restrict federal influence.

Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William, has put in bills to exempt Virginians from federal health care mandates. Cole has a similar bill. He has also introduced legislation to restrict federal oversight of commerce by saying that federal interstate commerce laws and regulations don't apply to goods and services made and sold in Virginia that don't cross state lines.

Cole also has a resolution urging Congress to establish a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

READ THE FULL TEXT at THE FREDERICKSBURG FREE LANCE STAR

Virginia leader chomping at the bit to fight 'Obamacare'

WND Exclusive DOCTOR'S ORDERSIncoming AG to feds: Hands off my state Posted: January 16, 2010

By Anita Crane Source: Courtesy of © 2010 WorldNetDaily

Officials in Virginia a short time ago joined attorneys general in a dozen other states to object to the provisions of "Obamacare," the pending legislation that would give the federal government unprecedented control of health care, and the state's incoming attorney general is chomping at the bit to get to work on the issue.

Ken Cuccinelli, who will take the oath of office this weekend, said it's a simple matter of the government lacking authority to impose the decisions members of Congress are making for their constituents.

"I believe the individual mandate violates individual rights," Cuccinelli said in an interview. "I do not believe the federal government has the legal authority in the [U.S.] Constitution to mandate that individual Americans purchase health insurance.

"A corollary to that is that the [Senate] bill, as it is currently written, requires state governments to set up healthcare exchanges to facilitate individual mandates. I do not believe that under the Constitution the federal government has the authority to dictate or effectively force states into its bureaucracy,” he said.

The opposition is just one of the moves afoot to challenge the Democrat plan should it eventually succeed and be adopted as law. The outgoing Virginia attorney general, Bill Mims, had joined with 12 other Republican state attorneys general to object to the Senate's version, which exempts Nebraska from paying Medicaid fees.

READ THE FULL TEXT at WORLD NET DAILY

Health Care: Obamacare Is Set to Mug the Country

Source: Courtesy of the Richmond Times Dispatch Written by Robert G. Marshall

MANASSAS - When a comedy mugger told skinflint actor Jack Benny, "Your money or your life," in a 1948 radio program, he was met with silence. He repeated the threat, "Look bud, I said your money or your life." Benny responded, "I'm thinking about it."

Americans will soon be "thinking about" a similar mugging from Obamacare proponents who want to compel all individuals to purchase health insurance costing up to $15,000 a year from private companies, or pay a "shared responsibility payment" fine up to $1,900 per year. Don't pay the fine? Then face a year in jail and a $25,000 penalty.

President Obama also wants to reduce air pollution. If we can be forced to buy health insurance, we can be forced to buy a certain car to reduce emissions, or even a new GM (Government Motors) vehicle.

Congress could likewise mandate that citizens deposit their savings in congressionally favored banks (whose executives make the correct political donations) or buy new home storm windows, insurance, or dishwashers, while Congress pretends it is not raising taxes!

To protect Virginians, I drew up HB 10 based on our natural rights of liberty and the contract power guaranteed by the Constitution. It provides: "No law shall interfere with the right of a person or entity to pay for lawful medical services to preserve life or health, nor shall any law impose a penalty, tax, fee, or fine, of any type, to decline or to contract for health care coverage . . . "

READ THE FULL TEXT at TimesDispatch.com

Bob Marshall represents the 13th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. Contact him at DelBMarshall@house.virginia.gov

Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act to Challenge Obama-care, FAQ

Download the PDF Version of the Official Release

Q. Will an Obamacare health Czar decide how you spend your income, or will you? A. Obamacare requires individuals to purchase private health insurance fashioned and approved by the Obama Administration or be fined $1900, face a year in jail and pay penalties up to $25,000 (half the median income of American families). Penalties start if a single, monthly payment is missed.

Yet, the primary responsibility for the economic welfare of families and adult individuals rests with families and adult individuals, not Washington politicians. Our Declaration states that governments receive their “just power from the consent of the governed,” and further, that it is “the Right of the People,” not elected or appointed officials, to structure government, “in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Obamacare proponents in Congress are proposing health care “solutions” which abolish our natural right of self-determination to make primary decisions for our own economic welfare. America’s Founders held that it was both the right and duty of citizens to resist Government which usurps rights given to us by our Creator.

Obamacare is not a battle over health insurance. It is a struggle over whether America will remain a nation of self-directing citizens or docile, powerless serfs.

Q. Do citizens and states have the constitutional authority to challenge Obamacare?

A. Yes. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the US Constitution affirm a supremacy of rights reserved to the people and to the states: Amendment 9: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Amendment 10: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Moreover, the natural right of contract existed long before our Constitution, and is a fundamental right of citizens and a free people. American courts do not enforce involuntary contract promises.

Q. How can citizens and state legislatures challenge Obamacare mandates? A. The "Health Care Freedom Act," HB 10 has been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly to challenge Obamacare, can by introduced in other state legislatures in 2010. Passage of HB 10 ensures that Virginia and other states will take up this challenge of defending Liberty on behalf of citizens who refuse to submit to the illicit demands of Obamacare.

HB 10 states:

"No law shall restrict a person's natural right and power of contract to secure the blessings of liberty to choose private health care systems or private plans. No law shall interfere with the right of a person or entity to pay for lawful medical services to preserve life or health, nor shall any law impose a penalty, tax, fee, or fine, of any type, to decline or to contract for health care coverage or to participate in any particular health care system or plan, except as required by a court where an individual or entity is a named party in a judicial dispute. Nothing herein shall be construed to expand, limit or otherwise modify any determination of law regarding what constitutes lawful medical services within the Commonwealth."

Q. Since citizens vote for their US Representatives, if Congress passes Obamacare, must citizens abide by the law? A. Congress’ ONLY duty is to serve citizens under the express powers of the US Constitution. Congress' own staff concluded (see below) that the proposed insurance mandates are novel and unprecedented in the 220 years since Congress was established in 1789! Forcing citizens to purchase private health insurance violates the compact between elected representatives and citizens reducing government "of, by and for the people," to demands of lords over subjects. The Declaration of Independence affirmed “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” It is the usurpers in Washington who propose to alter self government under the guise of health care reform.

Q. But Congress already mandates tax payments for Social Security and Medicare. What's so different about Obamacare? A. Congress has never attempted to force individuals to purchase anything in the private sector. An August, 1994, Congressional Budget Office report by Robin Seller, written re: Hillary-care, states: "A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States. An individual mandate would have two features that, in combination, would make it unique. First, it would impose a duty on individuals as members of society. Second, it would require people to purchase a specific service that would be heavily regulated by the federal government."

Q. Congress compels registration for the military draft, and state governments require the purchase of auto insurance, so can’t Obamacare require insurance purchases? A. The power to raise an army to provide for the common defense in an enumerated power given to the national government. The mandating of health insurance is not a power granted to Congress. Forty-seven states impose liability insurance to drive on public, tax-paid roads. No insurance is needed to drive at any speed on one's own property. Liability insurance is required to protect others from injuries. Driving is not a right, it is a privilege subject to conditions imposed by state legislatures which are empowered to enforce general police and welfare powers.

Q. What else could Congress mandate of citizens if health mandates go unchallenged? A. Congressmen and Senators could disingenuously tell citizens they will not raise taxes before an election, but then impose spending “mandates “on all Americans to achieve the same goal after they are elected. If Congress can force all Americans to buy health insurance, then Congress can mandate, under heavy penalty of jail or fines, that citizens purchase new windows or insulation to save the environment. Congress could compel states to not register automobiles older than 2005 to minimize air pollution.

Further, the Congressional Budge Office in 1994, stated Congress would be exercising a dangerous power: "a decision to exclude the costs of an individual mandate to purchase health insurance from the budget could lead policymakers to impose other mandates on individuals … to use mandates to control the allocation of a large portion of the nation's resources without the cost of those actions being controlled through the federal budget process."

Q. Does HB 10, the "Health Care Freedom Act" protect businesses? A. Yes, HB 10 protects both individuals and “entities” from mandatory health care purchases. Obamacare requires every company with an annual payroll of $500,000 or more to insure its workers with private plans, approved by the Obama Administration, or pay an 8% payroll tax. Obamacare also requires companies that do provide health insurance to pay 72.5% of an individual's premium, and 65% of a family plan. While Congress has passed laws pertaining to minimum wage, overtime, workplace safety, family leave, and workman's compensation, it never required companies to offer non-wage related or "fringe benefits" such as health insurance. Companies are not required to offer retirement plans, but if they do, they must conform to ERISA laws. Companies may, but are not required to, offer health insurance.

Q. Are there reputable legal scholars who think the Congress may NOT have the constitutional authority to compel health insurance purchase mandates? A. Yes, “the health care mandate does not purport to regulate or prohibit activity of any kind, whether economic or noneconomic. … To the contrary, it purports to “regulate” inactivity by converting the inactivity of not buying insurance into commercial activity. …

In recent years, the Court invalidated two congressional statutes that attempted to regulate noneconomic activities. In United States v. Lopez (1995), it struck down the Gun-Free School Zones Act, which attempted to reach the activity of possessing a gun within a thousand feet of a school. In United States v. Morrison (2000), it invalidated part of the Violence Against Women Act, which regulated gender-motivated violence. Because the Court found the regulated activity in each case to be noneconomic, it was outside the reach of Congress’s Commerce power, regardless of its effect on interstate commerce. To uphold the insurance purchase mandate, the Supreme Court would have to concede that the Commerce Clause has no limits, a proposition that it has never affirmed, that it rejected in Lopez and Morrison, and from which it did not retreat in Raich. …Congress may … not regulate the individual’s decision not to purchase a service or enter into a contract.”

(Heritage Foundation by Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett can be found here; also see American Law and Justice)

HB 10 is introduced by Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall (13th House of Delegates district) for the 2010 General Assembly session. If you live in Virginia, ask your own state representative to cosponsor HB 10. If you do not live in Virginia, ask your state representative to introduce HB 10 or a similar bill to challenge Obamacare. Questions? Email Bob at delegatebobmarsall[at]hotmail.com.