News Column

Okla. House Symbolically Bans Obamacare

March 13, 2013

Randy Krehbiel


The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a largely symbolic ban on the Affordable Care Act -- generally called Obamacare -- Wednesday morning.

The House spent more than 90 minutes discussing and debating House Bill 1021, by Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, which Ritze said amounted to a "political statement" against the controversial health care reform law.

Language creating a felony for anyone attempting to implement or enforce the ACA was removed in committee, so that the bill only declares Obamacare unconstitutional and says it is the "duty of the Legislature of this state to adopt and enact any and all measures as may be necessary to prevent the enforcement."

It does not include any penalties means of enforcement.

Ritze and most supporters of the bill argued that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, regardless of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to the contrary.

"The Supreme Court makes mistakes," Ritze said, listing examples that he said include Marbury v. Madison, the 1803 Supreme Court decision that established the principle of judicial review, and the Dred Scott case, an 1857 decision that narrowly interpreted the federal government's authority to regulate slavery.

The language follows the general line of what has become known as the nullification movement, which holds individual states can overrule federal laws a state deems unconstitutional. Most constitutional scholars say the issue was settled long ago, but a few argue otherwise.

Ritze and others also argued the ACA will lead to higher health care costs, less access and poorer quality. Rep. John Enns, R-Enid, said his personal health insurance was canceled because of health care reform. Enns is paralyzed from the waste down and said it will be difficult if not impossible to find a new carrier.

Opponents -- mostly Democrats -- said the bill was pointless and a waste of time. A few, including Rep. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, said it would benefit the majority of Americans, especially in their districts.

"We should never pass laws out of frustration or anger," said Rep. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City. "And we certainly should never pass a law to make a statement."

Source: (c)2013 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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