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Archive for Monday, April 5, 2010

Legislature’s previous attempt to force AG to file lawsuit was costly for state

House to consider ordering A.G. to file suit against health reform

April 5, 2010, 4:11 p.m. Updated April 5, 2010, 6:05 p.m.

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— 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.

Comments

Steve Bunch 4 years, 8 months ago

Stop me if you've heard this before: Morons!

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 8 months ago

Well the GOP will tell you the AG's office has $53K just sitting around doing nothing.

That's because they often confuse the budgets of other state agencies with the budget for the Legislature, which the GOP uses as its own personal slush fund and which has increased by over 20% the past couple of years.

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 8 months ago

Can the government regulate commerce? Yes. Can the government force you to engage in commerce? Absolutely not. That's part of the reason why the courts will overturn this deeply flawed heatlh care bill.

situveux1 4 years, 8 months ago

Am I the only one wondering why the legislature had to order Phill Kline to file a lawsuit over abortion?

getreal 4 years, 8 months ago

Another chance for a legislator to make money off suing the state, and perhaps another one can make money defending the state. How these people keep getting elected and fleecing the taxpayer escapes me.

Eride 4 years, 8 months ago

The legislature can't find money to even fund the basic operation of the judiciary and yet they are more than willing to blow money on a lawsuit that can't possibly be successful.

Let the states who have enough money in their budget to keep their court houses open Monday-Friday before you blow money on pointless pursuits.

Orwell 4 years, 8 months ago

Why on Earth should Kansas pay to participate? A law can only be declared unconstitutional once – does anyone really think Kansas could come up with a unique theory?

If the Supreme Court knocks it down in any of the numerous cases coming from other states, Kansas can enjoy a free ride. I'm morally opposed to my tax dollars being spent just for local political hot-dogging.

Mixolydian 4 years, 8 months ago

I agree with the sentiment, but several other state AG's are filing, why should we? Six can file an amicus brief in the Supreme Court on the cheap when the issue, inevitably, gets there.

average 4 years, 8 months ago

@SRTS -

There is no legal requirement (as in criminal charges) that you buy insurance. You simply pay more in taxes. Rather like the energy tax credits in place now. There's no legal requirement that I buy insulation this year. I will pay less taxes if I do, though.

Is this a good or acceptable answer? I certainly understand where it's ugly and morally pernicious. But, that's the legal theory that Elena Kagan (Solicitor General) will stand behind regarding the states' complaint that it's forced commerce.

Mixolydian 4 years, 8 months ago

average (anonymous) says… @SRTS -

There is no legal requirement (as in criminal charges) that you buy insurance. You simply pay more in taxes. Rather like the energy tax credits in place now. There's no legal requirement that I buy insulation this year. I will pay less taxes if I do, though.

That would mean then that this is a tax increase on every man woman and child in the country, no matter what the income level. That's ahout as a regressive tax as there is, So much for the $250,000 threshhold. Liar.

The administration is not calling it a tax. It's a penalty that you have to pay for not purchasing a commodity from a private enterprise. In this case the penalty just happens to be collected by the IRS.

What happens if you refuse the IRS?

Plenty of folks in federal prison who can tell you..

So yes, you can go to prison for refusing to purchase a personal commodity from a private enterprise.

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 8 months ago

average,

But there is a civil charge involved if we do not purchase insurance. In the case of mandatory health insurance, the IRS will fine those who don't comply. Those who don't pay an IRS fine can be jailed, as Mixolydian correctly states.

A requirement to engage in commerce is not merely a tax.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 8 months ago

STRS - that lawsuit is already filed. What is the point of Kansas either filing separately or joining in? Symbolism?

Most of the time symbolism is expensive. As a frequent critic of government spending, I would think you would be in favor of the Six decision.

billbodiggens 4 years, 8 months ago

There is a state legal requirement that you purchase automobile insurance complete with criminal penalties. There is a federal legal requirement that you have Medicare payment deducted from your salary along with whitholding taxes complete with possible criminal penalties. There is a state legal requirement that you have personal injury protection insurance to operate an auto complete with possible criminal penalties. Whoa, it sure looks like we need to get the AG on this as soon as possible as somebody seems to be trying for the first time in history to force us to buy insurance. Lordy, lordy, how are we going to survive? lol

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 8 months ago

Bob,

Kansas should join the lawsuit for two reasons. First, the fiscal burdens and the poor health care outcomes associated with nationalized health care far outweigh the cost of joining in this lawsuit. We can rightly invest a little money today to save ourselves a lot of money in the future.

Second, joining the lawsuit is similar to joining a class action suit where adding more plaintiffs (and their corresponding resources) increases pressure on the defendant to capitulate. Amicus briefs help, but they do not bring the full weight of plaintiff status.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 8 months ago

STRS, the fiscal burdens and poor health care outcomes will be settled at the expense of the 15 states who have joined the lawsuit. There is no benefit that would be given to the states that fund the lawsuit which will not also be given to Kansas.

There is no benefit to the investment you speak of that would not be equally gained by investing nothing. If someone came to you and said they were suing Company X and if they won regardless of your participation you would get $10,000, would you give that person $1,000 for the legal effort out of charity? Is that sound business practice?

And you think the more states that devote taxpayer dollars to this suit the more likely the federal government settles? That is shockingly partisan nonsense from you. Aren't you arguing that Kansas should spend taxpayer dollars for a purely political purpose?

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 8 months ago

No, I want the full resources of as many states as possible brought to bear against the federal government's health care takeover. We should not simply leave it to other states to provide critical leadership.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 8 months ago

Aren't we already paying mandatory charges for health insurance every time we use the system? If you have health insurance, aren't you already paying for those who don't have any money to pay for their emergency room visits? Some of those expenses are written off by the hospital, some of it is shared by those who DO pay into the system.

Eride 4 years, 8 months ago

"Aren't you arguing that Kansas should spend taxpayer dollars for a purely political purpose?"

I am going to answer for STRS since he is having trouble. STRS answers: "Yes"

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

The republican party has not been known for fiscal prudence in more than 30 years. They are more about budget mismanagement and reckless spending.

They after all did spend $53,000,000(million) on the sex life of Bill Clinton.

Some other valid points regarding this matter that is out of control beginning at the top where state repubs take their lead:

Think about it. In the past 30 years the repub party has been in involved two major home loan scandals that effectively took the USA economy down the tubes. One is too damn many but twice represents repub economic policy. Wreckanomics is a failed economic policy. In fact wreckanomics is beginning to smell like well planned crimes.

The republican party have become masters at putting millions upon millions upon millions of people out of work. AND stealing taxpayers retirement plans along the way.

What Repubs do with a remarkable degree of consistency is wreck the economy,initiate huge movements of shipping jobs abroad aka the Reagan-Bush Global Economy and try to wreck social security and medicare.

Is there a definite pattern? Absolutely!

  1. The Reagan/ Bush Home Loan Scandal http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  2. The Bush/Cheney Home Loan Scandal http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  3. What did Bush and Henry Paulson do with the bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

  4. Why did GW Bush Lie About Social Security?( This would cost taxpayers $4 trillion and wreck the economy) http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0505orr.html

  5. Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

  6. The "tea parties" BTW are part of the wreckanomics program funded by the Koch Brothers... well known oil billionaires. These thinkers back a tax payers bill of rights which is another scheme to reward the upper 1% which is designed to wreck local and state governments.

http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

All of the above displays reckless economic behavior that which drains the cookie jars.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 8 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight (anonymous) says…

No, I want the full resources of as many states as possible brought to bear against the federal government's health care takeover. We should not simply leave it to other states to provide critical leadership.

So then your argument is you don't want the other states to bear the cost, which will be fixed regardless of the other states involved?

Regardless of whether the lawsuit is brought by Florida alone or by all 50 states, the cost of is the same as determined by the DC attorney doing all the actual work.

There's no critical leadership being provided by other states. The lawsuit has been filed, by Florida. All the other states are doing is bearing the costs. Aren't there better uses for that money than to hand it over to Florida and a DC lawyer? Are you afraid that if other states don't join up then Florida will be forced to drop the case due to lack of funding?

If that is the case, then why isn't Florida making that plea? Since they aren't, one must safely assume they are only trolling for suckers to pay their legal bills. It is a shame they appear to have found one in you.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 8 months ago

Or more to the point, look was "conservative" Gov. Bobby Jindal did in Louisiana

http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/jindals-louisiana-purchase

Basically increased the Attorney General's budget to pay for this lawsuit. Now that's some good old fashioned fiscal responsibility for you.

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 8 months ago

The feds are not mandating or forcing anyone to buy health insurance. They are encouraging the practice through tax policy.

Identical to home ownership. The feds do not mandate or force anyone to buy a home. They encourage it through tax policy.

Those idiots who want Kansas to waste money to make a political statement should end their hypocrisy and return every tax dollar avoided through their use of residential interest deduction to the federal government. And enclose their socialist medicare cards for their family and friends at the same time.

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 8 months ago

I love how this commie-pinko-socialistic health care plan resembles so much the medical plans advocated by the commie-pinko-socialists like Nixon, Dole, Ford and Romney.

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 8 months ago

Boston,

May I take a pass on the government's "encouragement" that I buy health insurance? Of course not. That's why it's a mandate. That's why it's called force.

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