Many conservatives were convinced that yesterday we would see the US Supreme Court strike down what we know is a massive expansion of the federal government and an unconstitutional use of federal power. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite turn out as we had hoped. While there were not 5 votes to allow Congress to use the commerce clause to force individuals to buy health insurance, Chief Justice Roberts voted with Justices Breyer, Ginsberg, Kagan, and Sotomayor to uphold the law on the grounds that Congress does have the power to tax and that requiring an individual to pay a tax for refusing to purchase health insurance is consistent with that power. A copy of the ruling can be found here.
There were only two small victories (if you want to call them that) for conservatives: 1) the individual mandate was not upheld under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution limiting (albeit to a small extent) Congressional power to regulate economic activity; and 2) attempts to force states to expand Medicaid by threatening to withhold all Medicaid funds from states that refused to comply was ruled unconstitutional. Under today’s ruling, states can choose to expand Medicaid programs and get extra money from Congress to pay for part of that expansion, but if they choose not to expand Medicaid, they cannot be denied existing Medicaid funds. This is extremely important to Alabama where our state General Fund budget is already in shambles due to the high costs of Medicaid. If this provision had been upheld, it would have made an already bad situation much, much worse.
So what lesson can we take away from today’s ruling? First and foremost, we cannot count on the US Supreme Court to save us from ourselves. This ruling makes the November election more important than ever before because it will literally determine the fate of our country. For those of us who believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, it is vital to the future of our nation that we participate–along with working ourselves we should also encourage others to help get candidates elected who share a constitutional worldview and once these candidates are elected, do everything in your power to make sure they stick to their philosophy. We must help elect a president who will appoint judges with a strict constructionist judicial philosophy. Finally, we MUST hold these candidates accountable and let them know we will support them when they do the right thing.
The real loser yesterday was not Republicans or Conservatives or the Tea Party (no matter what the media says), the real loser yesterday was the United States of America and liberty as we know it. We cannot forget that and we MUST fight back.
More good resources on today’s Supreme Court ruling can be found here:
Analysis by Richard Epstein: http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/06/taxation-and-regulation-under-the-health-care-act/
Cato Institute Video Analysis of Ruling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMkg0y4vakM
On the Medicaid Provision: http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/06/court-holds-that-states-have-choice-whether-to-join-medicaid-expansion/
ALEC Guide to Repealing Obamacare: http://www.alec.org/publications/the-state-legislators-guide-to-repealing-obamacare/
Fresh off spring break, Alabama legislators will jump right in with a committee meeting on the charter school bill(HB541) in House W&ME. The committee will also look at a proposed fix to the PACT program (HB603). On Wednesday, the House Health Committee will have public hearings on the Healthcare Rights of Conscience Act (HB375), Healthcare Compact legislation (HB43), and an opt-out of abortion coverage by state run exchanges (HB112). Don’t forget to let your legislator know where you stand on these important pieces of legislation!
Today marks the 2-year anniversary of the federal takeover of our health care system. A majority of Americans still oppose Obamacare and believe it must be repealed in its entirety. Unfortunately, Congress hasn’t gotten the message. The House of Representatives voted yesterday to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (a.k.a. the Obamacare Rationing Board). This sounds like a good thing, right? But this is a dangerous strategy for several reasons. First, this will give cover to many Democrats and Liberal Republicans who have consistently opposed a full repeal of Obamacare. They will now be able to tell voters they voted for repealing Obamacare when in truth, they did not.
The strategy of a piecemeal dismantling of Obamacare is troubling in itself. The American public has made it abundantly clear they want a full repeal. The idea that we can repeal the worst parts of Obamacare and fix the rest has already started circulating around Washington. As the Heritage Foundation so aptly pointed out in a letter to Speaker Boehner, if this idea is allowed to take hold, then Obamacare is likely here to stay. This would be completely unacceptable.
Congress holds the future of health care for millions of Americans in their hands and they cannot falter. Obamacare must be repealed in its entirety. Contact your legislators and let them know that a full repeal is the only way forward.
The Obama administration approved 204 new waivers for the Obamacare law in April. 38 of those were for upscale restaurants and nightclubs and fancy hotels in Nancy Pelosi’s district, 27 were for health care or drug companies, and another 31 were for unions. That brings the total number of waivers so far up to 1,372.
The administration claims it reviews waivers on a case by case basis and only grants waivers to those companies or businesses on whom it will be too much of a financial burden to meet the law’s first year requirements. Given the nature of some of the businesses chosen to receive waivers, one has to wonder what criteria they are using to judge the financial burden and the company’s ability to pay.
All of this begs the question, if Obamacare is so great and going to do wonderful things for health care in America, why is everyone opting out?
On the Senate side…
SB196–Sen. Paul Bussman’s Shared Parenting bill: Changes the custodial presumption in child custody cases from 80%/20% to 50%/50%
HB58–Rep. Mike Ball’s Ethics Disclosure Requirements: Requires public officials/candidates and spouses of public officials/candidates to disclose if they are employed by the state or federal government or have a contract with the state or federal government.
HB64–Rep. Kurt Wallace’s Secret Ballot Protection Act: Constitutional amendment protecting the right to a secret ballot in employee representation.
SB46–Sen. Cam Ward’s Health Care Rights of Conscience Act: This legislation will provide a conscience exception for health care providers and pharmacists who believe in the sanctity of life and choose not to perform procedures or provide medication that do not comply with that belief.
SB310–Sen. Trip Pittman’s Teacher Tenure Law and Fair Dismissal Act: Reforms the state’s tenure system for teachers in order to improve the quality of education in Alabama.
On the floor:
SB301–Rep. Phil Williams’ pro-life legislation: Redefines person to include all humans from the moment of fertilization.
SB172–Sen. Del Marsh’s legislation to prohibit the use of gas chambers when euthanizing cats or dogs.
SB112–Sen. Arthur Orr’s legislation to remove racist language from the Alabama Constitution of 1901.
SB256–Sen. Scott Beason’s Immigration Reform Legislation–reforming the state immigration laws to provide for enforcement of federal immigration laws.
On the House side…
HB98–Rep. Kerry Rich and Rep. Wayne Johnson’s legislation to impose term limits on legislators in Alabama: Limits to three consecutive full terms in the House and/or Senate.
HB206–Rep. Jack Williams’ legislation to increase the distance campaign materials and candidates can be to a polling location to 300 ft.
HB427–Rep. Paul DeMarco’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights: This legislation will, among other things, amend the Alabama Taxpayer Bill of Rights to conform to the federal Taxpayer Bill of Rights including certain aspects like an “innocent spouse” defense. It will also increase the time period in which a taxpayer has to file an appeal of a preliminary or final assessment.
HB193–Rep. Mike Jones’ legislation to prohibit lawsuits against restaurants for obesity or weight gain.
On the floor:
HB123–Rep. Jay Love: Education Budget for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2012
Yesterday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed two important items on Eagle Form’s legislative agenda. The first was a tough, Arizona-style immigration law by a vote of 73-28. Among other things, Rep. Micky Hammon’s HB56 will give state and local police the power to check the immigration status of people who are held for other violations and require employers to verify the immigration status of their employees. You can find more about the legislation here.
In addition, legislators finished the last of the promised Handshake with Alabama and completed another item on our agenda yesterday by passing an opt out of the federal health care legislation better known as Obamacare. HB60 preserves the freedom of Alabama citizens to make decisions about and provide for their own health care regardless of federal mandates.
For a complete list of legislation we support, check out our 2011 Legislative Agenda here.
On the House side: The House is set to re-vote on the Obamacare Opt Out legislation. Several Republicans were absent last Thursday, and it did not pass. I’m told they have the votes to get it through this week.
On the Senate side: The Senate may take up Sen. Beason’s immigration reform legislation in committee on Wednesday.
Other items on the regular calendar for this week:
- SB127-Limiting terms in the Alabama House and/or Senate to 3 terms.
- SB136-Provides for electronic filing of campaign finance reports.
- SB50-Provides tax credits for businesses that create jobs.
- SB152-Establishes a 5-year property tax exemption for small businesses that relocate or expand in Alabama.
- SB111-Prohibits counties and municipalities from collecting occupational tax.
- HB32-Moves the presidential primary from March to June to coincide with state primary elections.
- HB56-Immigration Reform legislation.
- HB8-Amends the definition of “child” to include the unborn.
- HB102-Ban on texting while driving.
- HB126-Forever Wild reauthorization
- HB211-Requires the state to provide liability insurance for teachers.
The Alabama House of Representatives took up legislation this afternoon that would have preserved the freedom of Alabama citizens to make decisions about and provide for their own health care regardless of federal mandates. Sponsored by Rep. Blaine Galliher, HB60 failed by a vote of 59-28.
8 Republicans voted “P”. P indicates that they did not vote or were not present. You can find out if your legislator was one of them by clicking here. Update: I’m told several of the Republicans who voted “P” were not present for this scheduled vote.
Another Update: According to ALISON, Rep. Bill Roberts and Rep. Howard Sanderford intended to vote Yes.
**Rep. Owen Drake is listed as “P” because he was not present for the vote. He is currently in the hospital in Birmingham.