The Idaho House this morning passed 52-18 House Bill 391, which isstructured essentially as a protest to whatever the federal government might do by way of health care policy. (Several of the supporting legislators acknowledged, accurately enough, that they don't yet know what that might be.)
The bill "codifies as state policy that every person in the state of Idaho is and shall continue to be free from government compulsion in the selection of health insurance options, and that such liberty is protected by the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Idaho. The bill removes the authority of any state official or employee from enforcing any penalty which violates the policy. It also tasks the office of the Attorney General with seeking injunctive or other appropriate relief , or defending the state of Idaho and its officials and employees against laws, enacted by any government, which violate the policy." It's highly unlikely to survive a court challenge.
Two points of discussion by its advocates during debate, though, are worth a quick highlight.
Bill supporter Representative Lenore Hardy Barrett, R-Challis, said the issue was simple: This bill was supportive of the constitution, and "Either you believe in the constitution of the United States or you don't," and either you take your oath of office seriously, or not. A Democratic representative objected: The clear implication was that anyone who voted against the bill was trashing both the constitution and their oath of office. House Speaker Lawerence Denney, a conservative by any definition who voted for the bill, agreed that Barrett's characterization amounted to hashing the character and motivations of the opposition (impugning the motives of another legislator in debate is counter to House rules), and asked her to withdraw her statement. She wouldn't - she made completely evident that trashing the opposition and its motivations was entirely her point.
There's a world of commentary in that.
The other point of interest came from Representative Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, who took a distinctly different tack. We need health care reform, he said, just not on the federal level: "We need to have state reform."
A question, then: In Idaho, where is it? And what does Labrador propose the state do to insure the uninsured, keep the sick and previously-ill insured, and cut costs of both insurance and health care? What has any sitting Idaho Republican legislator done along those lines?
ADDED THOUGHT This morning, at the same time the Idaho House was debating and then passing a measure blocking federal health care reform, the Oregon House was debating and then passing, unanimously, House Bill 3631:
"The House today unanimously voted in favor of a bill brought forward by Representative Suzanne VanOrman (D-Hood River/Sandy) that prohibits insurers from discriminating against victims of sexual violence by treating that victimization, or physical or mental injuries sustained as a result of that victimization, as a preexisting condition that would exclude or limit coverage."
Would the Idaho Legislature pass that one? (No such bill has been introduced so far this session.)