Kansas requests to join 20-plus State AG suit against health care reform

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January 13, 2011

TOPEKA, Kansas: Two days after being inaugurated as the state's forty-second attorney general, Republican Derek Schmidt has requested that Pam Bondi, Florida's State Attorney General, who was also elected to office for the first time this past November, "file a motion to allow Kansas to join the 20 states that originally brought the lawsuit" against the federal government over the controversial health care reform measure in March 2010.[1]

Schmidt, the former State Senate Majority Leader, has made the legal battle over the federal health care reform legislation his top priority in the lead up to him officially taking office as the state's top litigator. Not long after the dust had settled following the contentious 2010 midterm election, in which Democrat Stephen Six was removed from office as the state's top attorney, former Republican State Senator Derek Schmidt, who was declared the winner of the contest, announced that he expected "to bring the state into a legal challenge to the new federal health care law soon after taking office."[2] He rebuffed criticism that there was no "legal reason to get involved at all" in the suit, noting that while he expected his office a few thousand dollars on the legal challenge, "the outcome could define the relationship between the states and the federal government for a generation."[3]

His predecessor, Democrat Stephen Six, had declined requests from Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and State Senator Jim Barnett in late-March 2010 to challenge the constitutionality of The Affordable Patient Protection Act of 2009, insisting that not only would the suit stand little to no chance of being successful, but that it would not be in the best interest of local taxpayers to squander scarce resources at a time when the state was suffering a budget shortfall.[4]

In addition to Kansas, three other states - Ohio, Wisconsin, and Wyoming - have also filed motions with Florida to join the legal action against the federal government. Former United States Senator Mike DeWine replaced Democrat Richard Cordray, who felt that the suit held "no legal merit and would needlessly tie up the resources of his office," in Ohio this past November.[5] Newly elected Republican Governors Scott Walker (Wisconsin) and Matt Mead (Wyoming), both of whom replaced outgoing Democratic chief executives, each gave their state attorneys general' the go ahead to precede with the legal challenge.

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