Senate panel approves bill to make health care mandate illegal
In something of a surprise, the Senate's commerce and labor committee voted 8 to 7 this afternoon to approve bills that would declare it illegal in Virginia to require a person to purchase health insurance. The bills will head to the floor of the Senate later this week, where they will likely test the resolve of the Democrats' slim 22 to 18 vote majority in the chamber.
The bills are a direct challenge to Democratic health-care reform efforts at the federal level. Bills that have passed both the U.S. Senate and House would require individuals to maintain health insurance.
A version of the same bill is being carried in the House by Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William), one of the chamber's most conservative members, and it was a top priority of Tea Party activists who rallied in Richmond last week. Thus, it's passage in the Democratic-controlled committee is both significant and interesting - Democratic Sens. Chuck Colgan (Prince William) and Phil Puckett (Russell) joined the committee's six Republicans in voting to approve the bill.
Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester), sponsor of one measure, said she believes its approval by the committee is a sign of the strength of public sentiment against federal overreach.
"This is a statement ... that people want to say that issues not mandated to Congress should be left to the states," she said.
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