State officials seek Missouri AG's legal opinion on health care reform law

Friday, February 4, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Three top state officials, all from Southeast Missouri, have asked Attorney General Chris Koster to render his legal opinion on the validity of the federal health care reform law.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, and Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, sent a letter Thursday to Koster asking his opinion on the legal status of the state regarding the health care law, officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"The legislature is about to tackle the state budget and there are just dozens and dozens of mandates put in place by the health care law," Kinder said. "This is really the commandeering of the state budget by an overreaching federal government."

Missouri law allows the legislature and other officials to ask the attorney general for a legal opinion related to their duties, and Kinder said Koster, a Democrat, is statutorily obligated to respond to the letter.

Nancy Gonder, a spokeswoman for Koster, said the attorney general's office did get the letter Thursday.

"We have received the letter and will respond after carefully considering the technical and legal questions raised," Gonder said.

The two-page letter points out that on Jan. 31, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida found the law to be unconstitutional. The letter also says the budgetary consequences of the health care law are burdensome and that lawmakers need Koster's guidance about how to proceed.

"Is the Act -- now declared unconstitutional -- lawful and enforceable in our state or isn't it?" the letter says.

The letter says that Missourians voted in August to adopt the Health Care Freedom Act by 71 percent and passed in all 114 counties. Kinder also has filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming the law is unconstitutional.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

207 W. High St., Jefferson City, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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