By Reps. Vito Barbieri and Judy Boyle, and Sens. Monty Pearce, Steve Vick and Sheryl Nuxoll
Too many people are under the mistaken impression that the state government must in every case be a mere rubber stamp of the federal government. We see this year after year and time and time again. Congress passes a law and it is the state governments’ responsibility to implement it with the following result: expensive governmental bureaucracies, new entitlements, and almost naturally, restricted personal freedoms.
The bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. really believe that their superior knowledge is the instrument of an emerging ‘Shangri-La.’ This attitude is killing our state and the principles under which our country was founded. Be it the introduction of predatory wolves, healthcare, mining, air and water quality and myriad other subjects, the federal government has butted into areas not delegated under the U.S. Constitution. We must act. The time is now.
We have proposed a simple, well-reasoned solution that is rooted in America’s history. We propose recognizing the national health care plan for what it is – a vast overreach of federal power. To stop it, we invoke our right to opt-out of the program, to interpose the state between the federal government and its Idaho’s citizens. House Bill 59 is a capsulation of that effort. Our bill simply says that our state government will not recognize the onerous provisions of the health care plan. Under our bill, state agencies and state employees will be forbidden from writing new agency rules, creating new programs or entering into any agreements that further the federal plan.
Under our bill, state agencies and state employees would be forbidden from expending state resources to assist the federal government with the creation of their federal healthcare scheme. Under our bill, the state would be forbidden from accepting or expending federal grants designed to support the federal government’s expansion into the healthcare arena.
In 2010, we took steps to block the unconstitutional health insurance mandate from taking effect here in Idaho, but there has been no effect. For example, the Department of Insurance is still working toward creating the insurance exchanges required by the plan at an expense estimated in the millions of dollars. Idaho must act now to block further work on behalf of the requirements on employers and healthcare providers. This bill does that.
This concept, known as nullification, is not new. It is merely choosing to opt out of a federal requirement. In 1798, the states of Virginia and Kentucky passed resolutions rejecting the federal government’s attempt to make it illegal for Americans to criticize their own government. The states viewed it necessary – even their duty -- to interpose themselves between its citizens and a government that was bound and determined to fine and jail people who exercised their first amendment rights against their elected officials. Those state resolutions were penned by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, people who presumably knew a thing or two about the U.S. Constitution.
Critics will assert, incorrectly, that the state either cannot or are foolish to pass legislation blocking the federal government, that such attempts harkens back to a bygone era in the nation’s history. That’s simply not true. The state of Idaho participated in a very successful nullification effort just a few years ago. In 2008, the state Legislature passed a bill rejecting the federal government’s REAL ID act. The state Legislature said at that time that the mandate “appears to be an attempt to ‘commandeer’ the political machinery of the states and to require them to be agents of the federal government. . . . It is within Idaho’s rights to protest the commandeering of its position in the Union by acts of Congress and the President of the United States.”
That vote was unanimous. And Idaho wasn’t alone in that effort. Twenty-two other states moved to block Real ID, and today, we don’t carry around a national ID card.
We have a chance to do the same with federal health care. The Idaho Legislature must act, here and now, boldly and decisively. If we don’t, forget it. The legislature might just as well buy rubber stamps!