Topeka A legislative briefing Wednesday on litigation surrounding the Affordable Care Act was strongly criticized by Democrats.
State Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, walked out of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee meeting, saying the briefing was a waste of time and money.
"Nothing has happened that appears to be able to overturn a federal law, passed by a majority of Congress and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, that has begun to connect millions of uninsured Americans to health care security," Haley said in a statement.
"It is doubtful that will ever change. Get over it. Move on," he added.
But with strong Republican majorities in the Legislature and Republicans holding every statewide and congressional office, GOP Kansas has challenged the ACA in numerous arenas, including the courthouse.
Of the more than 150 ACA lawsuits throughout the country, Deputy Attorney General Jeff Chanay said, Kansas has joined several major challenges.
One of those is a lawsuit brought by Hobby Lobby Inc. that seeks to overturn the ACA requirement that companies cover birth control for employees.
The owners of the Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain and several other companies have said contraception coverage runs afoul of their religious beliefs.
State Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, asked Chanay how Kansas could side with Hobby Lobby, since the company buys most of its products from China, where abortions are considered an acceptable way of enforcing the country's population limits.
"We have a company that doesn't want to provide birth control to their insured employees but has no trouble cutting deals with a country that forces abortions. How can we ignore that?" Kelly said.
Chanay said the attorney general's office joined the lawsuit because of the legal questions involved, and wasn't concerned about Hobby Lobby's business practices. A spokesperson for Hobby Lobby did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Committee Chairwoman Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, who opposes abortion, said Kelly's arguments were "a red herring."
Pilcher-Cook also dismissed Haley's absence from the meeting, saying that he wants a hearing on his bill to allow medical marijuana. Pilcher-Cook has refused to have a hearing on the measure this year, saying there are more pressing issues.
Haley argued his medical marijuana bill is one of several important issues that have been allowed to languish in committee while Pilcher-Cook has had committee meetings to demonstrate sonograms and a hearing on a bill that would have banned surrogate pregnancies in Kansas.