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Legislative Report: Health Care Debate [AUDIO]

The federal health care law was a big topic of debate among lawmakers today. Amy Richards has Monday’s Legislative Report.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering two constitutional amendments dealing with the state’s response to the federal health care bill. Cheyenne Sen. Leslie Nutting explains Senate joint resolution two.

Sen. Leslie Nutting, health care:

“The right of individuals to make their own health care decisions, the right of individuals to pay for their own health care. It does not allow for a single-payer system, that people can select their own provider and the type of health care they want, and pay for that themselves, that providers can provide health care without being mandated that they can provide it only through a certain payer system.”

She says health care is one of the top issues for her constituents.

Sen. Nutting, constituency:

“I have heard the largest request for this legislation, over anything else, from the people. The people feel that their health care is very threatened, that the cost, affordability of their health care is threatened and so I find it to be one of the biggest concerns for the people of Wyoming.”

Casper Sen. Charlie Scott says the approach in Senate joint resolution number 2 won’t work.

Sen. Charlie Scott, won’t work:

“One is to try to forbid the federal government from doing things. We can’t do that. We do not have the authority under the U.S. Constitution. We simply can’t do it. That was settled, Civil War.”

He says his proposal in Senate joint resolution three, which makes more sense.

Sen. Scott, resolution makes sense:

“My approach is to say the state can’t ration health care, and if the federal government tries it, we think they’re violating our citizens rights, and we’ll assist the citizens taking them to court and fighting them in court, which is the proper way to deal with something where they try do something that’s unconstitutional.”

Sen. Bruce Burns, of Sheridan says there may be elements of both bills that will work, but he has some questions about the timing of the bills.

Sen. Bruce Burns:

“Because neither of these constitutional amendments would come on the ballot until 2012. And I think the U.S. Supreme Court is probably going to decide the question on the constitutionality well before that, so they may be obsolete by the time they come up on the ballot.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee took public testimony and began to work the two bills, but didn’t vote. They will meet again on Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. to continue working the bills.

In the House.

Majority floor leader Rep. Tom Lubnau says things are going pretty well so far, but a lot of the big issues still need to be heard.

Rep. Tom Lubnau:

“Committee work on in getting the bills to the floor, and making sure that we don’t send a lot of unworked bills to out the floor. They’re starting to come to the floor.”

Wind energy is one of the issues that lawmakers will be tackling this session. Rep. Tim Stubsen says he is going to sponsor a bill that deals with restructuring how the state taxes wind energy.

Rep. Tim Stubsen:

“The real problem with what we have in place right now is it requires investors to come up with a ton of money up front, and to do that, they have to finance it, and what this bill does is it really spreads out the tax burden over time.”

Wyoming residents can track legislation and participate in policy making during the 2011 general session through the legislative Web site at legisweb.state.wy.us.

The site is continually updated as each bill moves through the process. With the Legislative Report, I’m Amy Richards for K2 Radio news.

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