House committee advances call for state A.G. to challenge federal law

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 07-Apr-2010

House Speaker Chris Benge reiterated his desire for Oklahoma’s Attorney General to file suit against the federal government, challenging the constitutionality of federal health care legislation.

Benge joined Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee last month in writing a letter to Attorney General Drew Edmondson urging him to file suit on behalf of Oklahomans, who under the legislation would be forced to purchase health insurance or face financial penalties.

On Wednesday (April 7), Senate Joint Resolution 64 unanimously passed the House Rules Committee. The proposal directs the Oklahoma Attorney General to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Congress, the President, and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prevent the provisions of federal health care legislation from taking effect.

“We have to fight back against a government who is trying to be all things to all people without regard to cost or the will of the people,” said Benge, R-Tulsa. “Just because Congress passes a law does not make it constitutional. Attorney General Edmondson has an obligation to defend the people of Oklahoma against this heavy-handed mandate.”

Nineteen states are now suing the federal government to block implementation of the federal bill, including Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington, Idaho, Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona and South Dakota.

In those states and in Oklahoma, the proposals to “opt out” or to force litigation on the issue vary in provisions. Beginning just a few hours after the measure passed in Washington, a majority of members of the Oklahoma Legislature have spoken out strongly against the law.

“We cannot sit idly by and watch this unconstitutional legislation become the law of the land,” said Benge.

“Oklahomans don’t want this bill, they can’t afford it, and I am hopeful the attorney general will move to challenge the law on behalf of the people of our state.” Edmond indicated last month he was investigating the appropriateness of such a move, but he has not commented on it recently.

The resolution passed the House Rules Committee today with a vote of 9-0 and will next proceed to the full House for consideration. strongly against the law.