By a vote of 9-33, state senators rejected HB 3101, the Freedom of Health Care Protection Act. As the record shows, debate on the bill in its original form was interrupted repeatedly by the introduction of hundreds of amendments.
One such amendment was proposed by the bill’s primary sponsor, Tom Davis. Davis’s proposal would have relieved businesses of the purported “quandary” of choosing between obedience to state law or federal law. The Morning News Online reports on the legislative wrangling that accompanied Davis’s effort:
Under Senate Rule No. 24, any amendment attached to a bill must have related language or be germane to the bill. President Glenn McConnell ruled that the amendment was not germane.
Sen. Davis attempted to override McConnell’s ruling, but the attempt failed by a vote of 18 to 24. The Senate invoked cloture, which is rare. Cloture is a procedure by which the Senate can vote to place a time limit on consideration of a bill or other matter, and thereby cause an immediate vote to be taken on the bill.
According to the Associated Press, Davis’ proposed amendment “sets regulations for navigators who help people sign up for health insurance through the federal website. It also requires state agencies to hold hearings before applying for federal grants tied to the Affordable Care Act.”
Earlier on in the deliberations, Davis reportedly said that “he wants to narrow the proposed ban on state agencies aiding Obamacare to exempt those required to carry out parts of the law.” Another story quoted Davis as saying that he “accepts the federal government's ability to enact the law.”
That’s hardly the bold blueprint for state nullification of an unconstitutional federal act, as anticipated by our Founding Fathers.
James Madison, for example, in The Federalist, No. 45, recommended that state lawmakers “refuse to cooperate with officers of the Union” when the federal authority attempted to enforce any act not falling within its constitutionally enumerated powers.
While Davis’ language as reported by MyrtleBeachOnline.com is not as forceful as the Founders would prefer, in another interview he pointed to a solid Supreme Court case that supports his position of a state’s right to refuse to carry the federal government’s water.
Davis named his failed amendment the “Anti-Commandeering Amendment.” In MedCityNews, Davis’s reliance on the anti-commandeering principle was first reported:
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