Coffee praises colleagues for backing state exemption from ‘ObamaCare’

At his weekly briefing for Capitol reporters today (Thursday, February 25), Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee praised Senate colleagues for supporting legislation acting as a block on federal health care proposals.

Coffee issued strong criticism of what he characterized as “the monstrosity” in federal health care bills pending before the U.S. Congress. Wednesday, the state Senate passed bills aimed at those bills before Congress.

SJR 58, sponsored by Sen. Coffee, an Oklahoma City Republican, petitioned the federal government to opt-out of health care mandates. The measure offers waivers to the state Medicaid program. It passed 29-16.

Tulsa Republican Sen. Dan Newberry’s SJR 59 is a constitutional amendment to prohibit forced participation in the federal health care system. It gained 30-16 consent.

Of the three measures in the upper chamber of the Legislature, the strongest consent came for Sen. Coffee’s SJR 64, a directive to the Attorney General to file suit on behalf of the state to keep federal health care legislation from taking effect. It gained overwhelming passage, on a 35-11 vote.

In the upper chamber, there are 26 Republicans. Each of the measures attracted at least some support from Democrats. In a press release earlier this week, Coffee put the action in national context, noting that the Virginia state Senate, where Democrats control, passed a similar measure to “block the implementation of the individual mandate of ObamaCare in that state.” Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, a Democrat, said passage of the Democratic health care plan in Congress would be “a worst case scenario.”

CapitolBeatOK asked Coffee if there was precedent for the Legislature directing the state Attorney General to take a particular position in litigation. He replied, “I’m not sure if there’s precedent, but we very much wanted to speak, in a pro-active way, so the attorney general knew about concerns over this legislation.”

Earlier this winter, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, a Democrat, was the first non-Republican to join a movement to oppose the pending federal bill if the so-called “Cornhusker Kickback” makes it to final passage in Congress.