Oklahoma legislators advance bills challenging federal government

An Oklahoma House committee passed bills that take aim at the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: February 20, 2013

The fight to stop what some legislators call the federal government's intrusiveness into Oklahoma's and individuals' rights is raging in a small state Capitol meeting room.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives States' Rights Committee, taking up its first bills Tuesday, approved a resolution to let voters decide whether some parts of the Affordable Care Act can be implemented in the state and also a bill that prohibits Oklahoma doctors from asking patients about gun ownership, which the measure's author says is required by the national health care law.

House Joint Resolution 1026, by Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Laverne, would send to a vote of the people a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit any person or entity from being forced to provide coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization in a health plan if doing so is contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the person.

Committee member Rep. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, argued against the measure, saying a lawsuit filed by Hobby Lobby already is challenging a mandate that is part of the health care law that requires the company to cover the cost of emergency contraceptives such as the morning-after pill for its employees through its employee health plan.

Floyd said lawmakers should wait until the lawsuit is settled, and that the U.S. Supreme Court last summer ruled the Affordable Care Act, called Obamacare by critics, is constitutional.

She reminded lawmakers they took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which recognizes rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court as the law of the land.

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