Twists And Turns Today On Health Care Freedom In Senate Commerce And Labor TodayMar. 01, 2010
Today, in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, the anticipated fireworks didn't materialize. But it sure did have some strange twists and turns. Although there wasn't as much hype concerning HB 10, The Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, there was due to be some suspense. The patron, Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas), had reason to be confident since three similar Senate bills escaped Commerce and Labor earlier in session, albeit by 8-7 votes, due to the brave votes of Democrats Charles Colgan (D-29, Manassas) and Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell). But HB 10 is worded slightly different. One difference from the Senate bills is that it clearly limits exemptions on insurance purchase mandates in divorce settlements, an omission Senate liberals objected to in SB 417, SB 311 and SB 283. On the other hand, its protections from the federal government are a little more expansive.
Stage set, here's what happened: Delegate Marshall barely was into the introduction of the bill when he got a few questions, including one from committee chairman and Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield), who asked, "Do you think we have the power to tell Congress what to do?"
Of course, the bill won't tell Congress what to do. Only that Virginia won't participate in a certain action (health care insurance mandates) that it may pass. In fact, Delegate Marshall cited a 1994 Congressional Budget Office memo during the HillaryCare debate, that stated never before had Congress mandate Americans to buy any good or service, and that doing so would open the door for other mandated purchases and a command economy. (Hopefully, our public schools still teach what political system uses a command economy.) He reasoned, that if Congress has never required an individual mandate before, it must not be legal, or it would have done so already in more than 200 years. He also cited New York v. United States where a federal court ruled in New York's favor over a federal mandate. Seemingly anxious to just get it over with, it was about here where Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath) asked if there was any difference between HB 10 and the Senate bills, which Delegate Marshall already had volunteered that there was. He amended his bill to preserve divorce settlements in which insurance coverage may be a part, something on which committee liberals hammered the Senate bills' patrons. On the other hand, his bill, in a macro constitutional sense (I love creating new phrases) was a bit broader and probably more protective of the feds than the Senate bills.
Before the committee's legal counsel and Delegate Marshall could complete their responses, motions and comments started flying all over the place. Senator Saslaw, confident that the differences were huge and that the bills were not the same, motioned that HB 10 be passed by for the year. Senator Frank Wagner (R-7, Virginia Beach) made a substitute motion to report. Senator Steve Newman (R-23, Forest) made a parliamentary inquiry if the bill could be conformed into one of the Senate bills. He was told no because the bills are in different sections of the code.
That struck me as odd right away because bills are conformed all the time. In fact, "conforming" is changing legislative language to the exact same language as another bill — in other words, that's the point! Change it and put it in any code section you want! So the motion to report was voted upon with Senators Puckett and Colgan upholding their part, but the bill failed 8-7. How could this be when the others passed? Senator Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) voted no.
As supporters gathered outside to plan a next step — primarily, to get Senator Norment to offer a motion to reconsider at the next meeting — word came out of the committee room to head back in: That's what indeed he was doing! So the bill was brought right back up, interrupting the introduction of the next bill. After the motion to reconsider passed, a motion to — believe it or not — conform it to SB 417 was made and passed on a 8-7 vote. So, HB 10 survives, amended to the same language as SB 417. You like unintended consequences (something liberals are always warning us about)? Good, because now the protections for divorce orders is gone!
It should now pass the Senate floor, where it will go back to the House. It remains to be seen if Delegate Marshall will then insist on his original language when it returns there and force a conference committee, or if he'll take what he has. Does he want pride of authorship? Or, knowing the other bill will become law, does he want to roll the dice and try to get the additional protections in HB 10 to become the law of the Commonwealth?
Senate Health Care Freedom Bills Advance To House Floor, Last Step Before Governor's SignatureFeb. 09, 2010
Here's an update on Health Care Freedom legislation: The three Senate bills — SB 283, SB 311 and SB 417 — passed in historic fashion by the Senate last week, all passed by 16-5 bi-partisan margins in the House Commerce and Labor Committee around 3:30 today. (These bills originally were listed on the committee agenda last week, but were carried over to today. The vote most likely will be 17-5 as one pro-10th Amendment delegate was not there, but delegates are allowed to vote after committee as long as it doesn't afect the outcome.) The Senate bills are patroned by Senators Fred Qualye (R-13, Suffolk), Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield) and Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), respectively. All three bills proceed to the House floor tomorrow and face a projected key vote Thursday. House passage is very much expected, but nothing should be left to chance. Contact your delegate (here) or, to learn who your delegate is, click here. If passed by the House, the bill goes to Governor Bob McDonnell for his signature.
In other words, establishing a 10th Amendment wall around Virginia against the encroachment of federal bureaucrats is within a very short grasp — much quicker and without the huge dust-up most anticipated — making Virginia the first state to do so! The Old Dominion, leading for liberty, again.
That founding principle, ingrained but ignored for so long, that the states and the people, are the sovereigns of this country and commonwealth, may soon have the weight of law in Virginia. Where the central government has no stated role, the people have natural rights to make decisions for themselves. That is the essence of constitutionally guaranteed limited government — government does not grant rights nor issues commands. It secures rights and guards freedom. There's a rebirth of that now and, as during freedom's birth at the Founding, it's finding its bearings in Virginia.
Virginia Closer To Becoming First State To Re-Establish Freedom From Federal Government!Feb. 04, 2010
Freedom-loving, constitution-respecting Virginians are one step closer to seeing Virginia enact historic legislation! Today, the House Commerce and Labor Committee voted 17-5 to report HB 10, The Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, to the House floor. The bill is patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas). The committee also rolled the similarly worded HB 722, patroned by Delegate Chris Peace (R-97 Hanover), into HB 10. In introducing the bill, Delegate Marshall told the committee that the Congressional Budget Office cited the fact that Congress in 220 years never has mandated an individual purchase of any product — and if it hasn't done so in that time, it means it knows it can't do so. In typical Marshall style, he also quoted Alexander Hamilton, the most ardent supporter among the Founding Fathers of an influential central government, in Federalist 83, where he explicitly stated Congress' power extends only to certain enumerated powers and defined the "welfare" clause quite differently than do most politicians today.
In addition, the committee scheduled a late vote on SB 283, SB 311 and SB 417, the health care freedom bills passed in historic fashion by the Senate. The Senate bills are patroned by Senators Fred Qualye (R-13, Suffolk), Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield) and Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), respectively. Easy victories were expected for those bills as well.
Virginia now is only a few steps from leading on, and asserting, what it so profoundly led and asserted two centuries ago: That the states and the people, as explicitly stated in the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution, are the sovereigns of this country and commonwealth, and where the central government has no stated role, the people have natural rights to make decisions for themselves. Virginia now has the opportunity, in a new era, once again to lead the country in respect for constitutionally guaranteed limited government.
Even with this great momentum, nothing — nothing — should ever be taken for granted around here. These four bills – HB 10, SB 283, SB 311 and SB 417 – now go to the House floor. Anyone of the Senate bills that passes will go to Governor Bob McDonnell for his signature. E-mail your delegate (here) (or find your delegate here) and ask him or her to vote in favor of Virginians’ rights to make their own health care decisions without the federal government’s intrusion.
How The Historic Senate Vote On Health Care Freedom HappenedFeb. 01, 2010
It's not hyberbole to say this afternoon's Senate vote was historic. The legislation it passed in three identically worded bills – SB 283, SB 311 and SB 417 – guarantees Virginians the right to freely choose their health care options irregardless of federal government mandates. It also asserts a notion long ignored but firmly ingrained in the U.S. Constitution. It also shows, from a political perspective, that there are Democrats who understand the small government movement isn't limited to "swastika-wearing" thugs as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have us believe. The floor debate wasn't as dramatic as I — and those of us who relish political theater — had hoped. Sure, there were some pointed questions, but judging by the temperment of the questions and their lack of heft, it could have been mistaken for a transportation funding bill. That was an immediate clue the Senate majority knew it had lost more than two defectors from its caucus. If it was only two, there would have been deal making, recesses to sweat them out, arm twisting, all of the above or more.
If there was a surprise, it was in how many Dems defected and who two of them were: Senators Ed Houck (D-17, Spotsylvania) and John Miller (D-1, Newport News). There were rumors about the former last week (acceptable, but believe-it-when-you-see-it) and hope about the latter (no way that's gonna happen). The third new vote, also rumored late last week, Senator Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), was a more likely possibility. Although the 23-17 margin was a pleasant shock, I rooted for a showdown 20-20 tie that Lt. Governor Bill Bolling would have broken in the affirmative. That would have been more headline grabbing.
Not that the debate wasn't sharp. The questions from Senate liberals to the bills’ patrons — Senators Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), SB 283; Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield) SB 311; and Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), SB 417 — came from Senators Donald McEachin (D-9, Henrico), John Edwards (D-21, Roanoke), and Majority Leader Richard Saslaw (D-37, Springfield), as well as the more moderate Senator Chap Peterson (D-34, Fairfax). But their questions repeatedly missed the point, including questions about contracts, insurance requirements to join athletic clubs, and ex-spouses providing insurance in divorce settlements. Senator Quayle nailed it in his opening remarks when he said, "This bill attempts to reinforce the Constitution of the United States. … The Constitution doesn’t grant rights to anyone. It puts limits on what government can do to us."
Nothing more needed to be said. This being the Senate, of course, more was. Including this gem from the not-smarting-enough-from-his-November-trip-to-the-shed Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath), who complained that with the economy and employment in bad shape, the General Assembly should not be "legislating in theory." A LOL coming from a guy who was shredded primarily because of national issues involving government intervention. Besides, he should know that it's Washington liberals who have ignored the economy and jobs for an entire year in lieu of health care "reform." But it's not theory. The Constitution is the law of the land. Amazing he doesn't understand that, but his comments today make it clear why his campign was a case study in political disasters, prompting comparisons to other campaigns ("Deeds-like").
At the beginning of session, not many people gave this legislation a chance of getting out of a Senate committee, much less passing the Senate floor by a wide margin. But it happened thanks to a large coalition comprised of thousands of activists from across Virginia, many of whom have been here several times to lobby their representatives and attend committee hearings.
But this is the General Assembly, after all, and nothing becomes law until it is signed. So vigilence is needed. We will stay on top of this legislation — and encourage all supporters to do the same — until it passes both chambers and is signed into law.
Here Are The Five Senate Democrats Who Voted For Health Care FreedomFeb. 01, 2010
The five Virginia Senate Democrats who voted for SB 283, SB 311 and SB 417, the Senate bill for health care freedom and defense of the 10th Amendment, are: Senators Charles Colgan (D-29, Manassas) and Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell), who both voted for it committee, as well as Senators Edd Houck (D-17, Spottsylvania), John Miller (D-1, Newport News) and Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville). See the vote for SB 283 here, which is identical to the votes for the subsequent bills. The bills are patroned, respectively, by Senators Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield) and Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester).
BREAKING NEWS: SB 311 And SB 417 Also Pass Virginia Senate!Jan. 31, 2010
The two identical bills to SB 283 — SB 311 and SB 417 — also passed just seconds ago, by identical 23-17 margins. At first glance, the six vote margin is surprisingly large. More details to come. SB 417 is patroned by Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester) and SB 311 is patroned by Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield).
BREAKING NEWS: Senate Approves Health Care/10th Amendment Bill 23-17!Jan. 31, 2010
Just seconds ago, by a vote of 23-17, the Virginia Senate passed SB 283, a bill that asserts Virginians' rights not to be forced into a federal health care plan or to be forced into buying insurance because of a federal mandate. Five Democrats voted with the 18 Republicans. Details to follow. SB 283 is patroned by Senator Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk). The bill now goes to the House of Delegates, where it likely will be referred to the Commerce and Labor Committee.