Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester) is in her first term in the Virginia Senate. She is a rising star in the Republican Party of Virgina, let alone in the GOP caucus, and already has led on a number of issues, becoming an effective voice for conservatism in the very liberal Senate. She sits on the General Laws and Technology, Privileges and Elections, and Rehabilitation and Social Services Committees. This year, she was one of three patrons of Senate legislation that protects Virginians from the increasingly long arm and outright girth of the federal government over states and individuals in the area of health care. Her bill, SB 417, with the others, shocked liberals across the state by passing the Democrat controlled Senate and now is on the way to Governor Bob McDonnell's desk for his signature, which will make Virginia the first state to protect itself from ObamaCare. We originally scheduled this interview for one part, but Senator Vogel gave such informative replies, we decided to break it up. So, here, in part one, we ask her about her Health Care Freedom legislation. In part two, we'll cover the state budget and spending, the economic benefit of eliminating corporate taxes, and de-funding Planned Parenthood.
FamilyFoundationBlog: Senator Vogel, thank you very much for spending time with us and answering these questions. They cover a broad range of topics of interest to our readers. As we have just passed "Crossover," we very much look forward to your answers and insights as to what is happening in the General Assembly. Are you ready for some questions?
Senator Jill Vogel: I am ready and I am happy to have an opportunity to be with you. Also, before we begin I should tell you how grateful I am for all that The Family Foundation does to provide support and encouragement on the bills that I have carried. It is a huge help.
With crossover behind us, this is a perfect opportunity to take stock of where we are and for me to answer some questions about progress in the Senate this year. It has been an intense session, but with the help of the newly elected Governor we have made some significant headway on issues affecting jobs and the economy as well as a long list of other issues that are priorities for us.
FamilyFoundationBlog: Thank you for those kind words. That's very high praise. Now, question one: You are one of the leaders in Health Care Freedom legislation to protect Virginians from the federal government's reach into our personal health care decisions. Why did you take on this issue?
Senator Vogel: I took this on because it is time that our state legislature acted on this subject — both to protect our citizens and to reinforce that what the federal government is currently attempting to do with health care is not only bad public policy, but it is unconstitutional.
My bill is simple. It makes it illegal to impose insurance mandates on the citizens of the Commonwealth and forecloses the kinds of mandates that government run health care would dictate. Frankly, never in the history of this country has the federal government attempted such a power grab and I have an obligation to the citizens that I represent to prevent Congress from usurping the authority for decisions that are clearly left to individuals and the states under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Such a scheme by the federal government will never survive a Constitutional challenge and Virginia’s legislation sets us up for that challenge. The United States Supreme Court has never expanded the 10th Amendment or the Commerce Clause or any other category to reach the regulation of the purchase of a private product. We can incentivize certain behavior, we can tie certain requirements to certain funding or other contingencies, but a flat out mandate of this nature is a clear violation of the Constitution.
Other state legislatures around the nation have taken up the charge as well and, at this count, I think more than 38 states are considering similar measures. The point is that states are the breeding ground of innovation and competition for new ideas and solutions about health care should be left to the states. I am proud to say that yesterday marked the passage of the legislation in both the House and Senate of Virginia, bringing us national attention as the first state legislature to fully pass the measure.
FamilyFoundationBlog: Were you prepared for the heated barrage of questions and, quite frankly, the rude treatment from one of your liberal colleagues in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee? Also, tell us about the close vote in the committee — did it surprise you that it even got reported? How much work went in to convincing Senators Colgan and Puckett to crossover?
Senator Vogel: I knew that the issue would be controversial and politically charged and I think the slim margin of the vote made it that much more tense. I was surprised that the bill passed in a committee with such a large Democratic majority on the committee and that merely reinforces that this is not a partisan issue. Also, it was not a hard sell with Senators Colgan and Puckett, whose votes very much reflect the mood of their districts.
FamilyFoundationBlog: Were you surprised at the big margin the Health Care bills passed in the Senate given the liberal control of that chamber? Have you seen an issue like this before that has so galvanized such a large number of people from all across the political spectrum?
Senator Vogel: Once it passed committee, I was less surprised at the amount of bipartisan support in the full Senate. Again, those numbers just reinforce that these concerns about health care are compelling to people across the political spectrum. No matter what, Virginians don’t believe in a one size fits all health care solution that subjects them to the dictates of a federal bureaucracy that manages health care.