Topeka The last time the Kansas House ordered the attorney general’s office to file a lawsuit, the matter cost the state $53,000 and the issue was quickly dismissed in court.
Pending before the House is a resolution that would force Attorney General Steve Six to file a lawsuit challenging the new federal health care law.
Last week, Six announced that he would not join a lawsuit against the new law that was filed by a group of other state attorneys general.
Six said that while the health care law has prompted political debate, “Our review did not reveal any constitutional defects, and thus it would not be legally or fiscally responsible to pursue this litigation.”
He said the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court decisions give the federal government broad powers to regulate interstate commerce. “No serious argument may be advanced that the health care industry and all those who participate in it — including doctors, nurses, patients and insurers — are not part of interstate commerce,” he said.
Despite his decision, the Kansas House, when it returns for the wrap-up session, has before it a resolution ordering Six to file a lawsuit. A 1975 state law allows one chamber to direct the attorney general to challenge the constitutionality of a state or federal statute.
In 2002, the Kansas House passed a resolution that required the attorney general's office to file a lawsuit, challenging the use of Medicaid funds for abortions.
Medicaid is a program that uses federal and state funds to provide health care to the poor and those with disabilities.
In August 2005, then-Attorney General Phill Kline, a Republican and opponent of abortion, filed the lawsuit against then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat who supported a woman's right to have an abortion. Kline hired state Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, an attorney and critic of abortion, as a special counsel to handle the case for his office.
But Shawnee County State District Judge David Bruns dismissed the lawsuit in January 2006, saying as long as Kansas takes federal money under Medicaid it has to abide by federal rules. Those rules include a provision that requires Medicaid reimbursements for abortions that are the result of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.
“Thus, so long as the state of Kansas continues to participate in the Medicaid, it has a duty to comply with the federal laws and regulations governing the program,” Bruns said.
According to the Kansas attorney general’s office, the case cost $53,327. Attorneys Kinzer and anti-abortion attorney Dorinda Bordlee received $34,641, and the defense counsel of Spencer, Fane, Britt & Browne received $18,686, the attorney general’s office said.