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Eye On Boise

Barbieri pitches nullification bill

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, pitches
Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, pitches "nullification" legislation to the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday. (Betsy Russell)

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, told the House State Affairs Committee this morning, "The federal health care laws recently passed by the U.S. Congress have invaded the traditional sovereign powers of the state. This bill declares that this intrusion by the federal government is ... null and void."

Committee members had lots of questions for Barbieri. "Are you ... aware that no court in the history of the United States has ever upheld a state effort to nullify a federal law?" Rep. Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, asked Barbieri. He responded, "I do believe no federal court has done that. The difficulty is that the federal courts are an arm of the federal government, so it would be very difficult to imagine an arm of the federal government ruling against itself."

Barbieri said the bill's sponsors estimate that the state would save $228 million by passing their nullification bill. Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, said the state Department of Insurance already has received $2 million from the federal government to start setting up health care exchanges. "This is the law of the land. So are we going to give it back? Are those folks working on this, are they going to be fired?" she asked. Barbieri said, "It's inestimable, and that's the difficulty."

Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, noted that other members asked Barbieri about an attorney general's opinion. "I'm not privy to what that is, other than what I read in the paper," Anderson said. "I think if there's a decision we're going to make here without having access to that, I would feel very uncomfortable. We have an attorney general's opinion out there, and I would like to know what that is." Barbieri responded, "I would not be comfortable. It's a three and a half page kind of rambling."

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.