Silly season hits legislative halls

opinions

February 4, 2010 - 12:00 AM

With the state budget still wildly out of balance, the public schools facing drastic new cuts, disabled and sick Kan-sans wondering whether they will get care, and the Medicaid program beggared by still deeper cuts, a disconnected passel of state legislators led by Sen. Mary Pitcher-Cook of Shawnee cobbled together a proposed amendment to the state constitution they say would “preserve the right for Kansans to decide if they want to purchase health care insurance.”
Sen. Pitcher-Cook and her cohorts also are sponsoring a nonbinding resolution that would remind Washington not to mess with states’ rights.
These twin bits of legislative garbage prove that the silly season came to Topeka along with the freezing fog.
Point one is that state law can’t override national law. And if an amendment to a state constitution can exempt a Kansan from a federal requirement, then that same amendment would disqualify those who opted out of an insurance requirement from the benefits of the federal law ignored.
Point two is that Kansas lawmakers shouldn’t be playing asinine political games when the real work they have to do for Kansas remains undone.

THERE IS a populist point being made by Sen. P-C: What she is saying is that any of the 50 states has the right, perhaps the duty, to ignore the Union whenever it chooses. For if a state can decide it will not comply with a federal health insurance law, then it can also decide that its young men and women don’t have to register for military service, that its citizens need not sign up for Medicare when they turn 65, cannot be required to have a passport to cross over our national borders and return, can, in other words, say that the Constitution of the United States and the national laws passed under that constitution are mere recommendations which can be obviated by state law.
Silly season, indeed.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.

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