As Gov. Scott Walker contemplates whether to create a state health care exchange under Obamacare, he will have to contend in the coming legislative session with nine lawmakers who have said they back a bill to arrest any federal officials who try to implement the health care law.
Eight of the nine Republicans also have gone on record saying they also want to write a law that would see airport screeners charged with sexual assault if they conduct overly invasive pat-downs of passengers going through security.
All nine also told a tea party-aligned group they backed passing so-called "right-to-work" legislation; allowing people to carry guns without having to get permits from the state; allowing people to buy raw, or unpasteurized, milk; and blocking state funding for the federal Real ID law that requires states to develop more secure driver's licenses.
But their stance on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, could cause the most fireworks in the upcoming session. Walker must decide by Friday whether the state will create a health care exchange under the health care law or leave those duties to President Barack Obama's administration.
Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) is one of the nine from Wisconsin who told the Campaign for Liberty he would back legislation to declare Obamacare illegal and allow police to arrest federal officials who take steps to implement it in Wisconsin. He said he believes the health care law is unconstitutional, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that it passes constitutional muster.
"Just because Obama was re-elected does not mean he's above the constitution," Kapenga said.
In addition to Kapenga, those listed as supporting the Campaign for Liberty's positions are Sen. Mary Lazich of New Berlin; Reps. Don Pridemore of Hartford; Erik Severson of Star Prairie; Tom Larson of Colfax; Scott Krug of Wisconsin Rapids; and three Republicans elected for the first time last week who will be sworn in early next year -- Rob Hutton of Brookfield, Mark Born of Beaver Dam and Dave Murphy of Greenville.
Severson told the group he did not support the legislation on Transportation Security Administration pat-downs, but backed the other measures. The other current and newly elected lawmakers said they supported the entire agenda of Campaign for Liberty, according to the group's website.
The Campaign for Liberty and others endorse a notion being promoted by conservatives called nullification that holds that under the 10th Amendment states can ignore federal laws if they choose. The 10th Amendment says: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), the incoming Assembly speaker, said he has no position on nullification and is waiting for Walker to make his decision on an exchange, said Vos spokeswoman Kit Beyer.
But Larson said leaders told Assembly Republicans on Tuesday that nullification is "not an option."
"I'm certainly not for Obamacare, and if there's any way we could stop that in the state of Wisconsin, I'd be up for that," Larson said.
As for arresting federal officials, he said, "I don't think that's possible under the circumstances."
Pridemore said he would like to find ways to block Obamacare, but he doesn't know the best way to do it.
"People in our district do not want Obamacare hands down," he said.
Pridemore noted Missouri voters last week barred their state from implementing a health care exchange without legislative approval. "That seems reasonable," Pridemore said. "It was making a statement to the federal government that we don't want Obamacare."
He said he also wanted to see stronger laws put in place to crack down on TSA agents if they are overly aggressive in patting down airline passengers on their breasts or groin areas. He said it was important to weed out bad agents.
"There have to be a few people out there who are doing it just for the pleasure of patting people down," he said.
Born said he also supported legislation to curb abuses by TSA agents. An administrator in the Dodge County sheriff's office, he said he knows there are professional ways to conduct searches and has been concerned by reports of invasive searches.
Born said he opposed Obamacare but did not recall ever backing charging federal authorities with crimes for implementing it. He said he told a Mayville tea party group earlier this year that the state had to follow federal laws, even if lawmakers disagreed with them.
"If it's the law, it's the law," he said.
He said he did not think he filled out the Campaign for Liberty survey, but couldn't be certain, saying he had answered many questionnaires during the campaign.
Nonetheless, Todd Welch, the Campaign for Liberty's state coordinator in Wisconsin, said he believed the group had accurately summarized how Born and other respondents answered the group's seven yes-or-no questions.
Born said he was unfamiliar with the Real ID law but the questionnaire accurately reflected his support for allowing people to carry guns without permits and to buy raw milk.
"A family should be able to decide what's right for their family," he said of allowing raw milk sales.
A bill allowing the sale of raw milk passed in 2010 when Democrats controlled the Legislature, but then-Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed it. Some Republicans have trumpeted the idea, but they did not take it up in the last session.
Born also said he doesn't recall taking a position with the group on right-to-work legislation. He said such a law might be worth looking at eventually, but not now.
Right-to-work laws bar private-sector labor contracts from including provisions that require employees to join their unions as conditions of employment, and unions fear Republicans will seek such legislation after curbing collective bargaining for public workers last session. Walker has supported the idea in the past but said in May he would do "everything in my power" to prevent such legislation from coming to his desk.
Kapenga said he did not think it could happen in the upcoming session, even with Republicans holding majorities in the Assembly and Senate.
"I very much support right to work, but do I think it's realistic? No. I don't think we'll have the political capital to do it," he said.
In the last session, Republicans passed a law allowing people to get permits from the state to carry concealed weapons, ending the state's long-held ban on concealed weapons. They considered going further with a bill by Pridemore that would have allowed people to carry guns without permits under a concept known as "constitutional carry" that is based on the belief that the 2nd Amendment allows carrying guns without regulation.
Kapenga said he supports such legislation but does not believe there is enough support to pass it in the next session.
Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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