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Gregoire, lawmakers consider blocking McKenna suit

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 24, 2010 at 2:39 pm with 20 Comments »
March 24, 2010 2:39 pm

Gov. Chris Gregoire says she is open to a potential move to block Attorney General Rob McKenna from spending state money on a lawsuit challenging federal health care reform.

As Jim Brunner reported in today’s Seattle Times, Democrats in the Legislature are considering such a budget proviso. They and Gregoire are upset that their state’s top cop is taking part in a 13-state lawsuit over a bill they say would help Washington patients and taxpayers.

McKenna says the requirement for people to buy health insurance or face fines is unconstitutional, citing the Tenth Amendment preserving states’ rights and the Commerce Clause on interstate commerce.

Gregoire has seen no proposal from lawmakers, but told reporters today she was open to the idea. The former attorney general doesn’t see it as interfering with McKenna’s turf. Under budget-cutting rules, she said, her office scrutinizes every request by the attorney general to spend money on outside experts in legal cases.

Rep. Jeannie Darneille, who chairs the House subcommittee overseeing the attorney general’s funding, told me legislators have discussed a proviso that would limit what that funding could be spent on.

“This is clearly outside of the interest or intent of the Legislature or the executive branch,” Darneille said of the lawsuit. She acknowledged that she’s sensitive to the need for separation-of-powers – “There is a delicate dance, because you have separately elected officials” – but said the Legislature should exercise oversight of the budget.

Leave a comment Comments → 20
  1. bullman120 says:

    The governor cannot balance the budget now, what until she has thousands of new medicare patients that she will have to fund.

  2. bullman120 says:

    i stand corrected, when she has hundreds of thousands of MEDICAID patients to fund

  3. What is this future benefit for State of Washington; for example, MEDICAID DSH REDUCTIONS—for example, H.R. 4872, at 77, SEC. 1704. REDUCTION IN MEDICAID DSH (4)(b)(1):

    IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall reduce Medicaid DSH so as to reduce total Federal payments to all States for such purpose by $1,500,000,000 in fiscal year 2017, $2,500,000,000 in fiscal year 2018, and $6,000,000,000 in fiscal year 2019.

    Are these some of the things the State of Washington is looking forward toward not getting tomorrow; it follows, saving the federal government health care money? Who pays if the federal government does not? Just maybe the remaining employed wage earning ‘Taxpayers’ in Washington State.

    Where was these same legislative people when some former AG filed a tobacco litigation that would end up costing the tobacco user more and some questions remain how the settlement money has been spent within the State of Washington. From my memory this tobacco Wash. AG settlement was to be used for the health care need and cost related to the people that had purchased tobacco products; as a result, became sick and need care that cost money. So, where did all this tobacco money go? Maybe some legislative person can drag-out some child that will provide the proof that State of Washington did not waste this tobacco settlement money received?

  4. AreYouHighOrWhat says:

    So if you don’t like the “checks & balances” built into the system, rather than use the “democratic process” to deal with the voices of dissent, we cut their funding and stop their dissent from being heard. Seems like the righteous would be confident they hadn’t corrupted the constitution and their legislation would stand and wouldn’t need to undermine the process by preventing the dissent to be heard. Now that I know what Chris Gregoire thinks of “Democracy” I’m sorry I voted for her, it won’t happen again ;0)

  5. dbreneman says:

    And this is the same Christine Gregoire who, as Attorney General, refused to join the anti-trust suit against Microsoft. Pure Establishment Politician.

  6. How dare Rob McKenna spend public money for a lawsuit against against health care reform when he has no public permission to do so. I bet if he did seek public approval he would be turned down because this is a heavily democratic state, despite what the gun toting, “in your face” tea-partyers say.

    Good work Gregoire. My opinion of you just went up.

  7. How pompous and arrogant have our state legislators become? We need to remind them they do NOT represent us, putting it mildly, they were HIRED to do a good job with our money, our future, our quality of life. Lisa Brown, Frank Chopp and the others need to get down from their high horse and be reminded there are much smarter people who are NOT in politics but expect them to do the first and foremost; listen to what people need and want. It’s like having a very bad set of parents.

  8. McKenna has been a good attorney general, basically non- and bi-partisan. However, this is a mistake, a waste of taxpayers’ money, and very partisan.

    Let the other states sue without us and see what happens. There will lots of money for the lawsuit anyway, from the insurance companies and the GOP.

  9. The only reason McKenna is Attorney General in the first place is because Christine Gregoire resigned the Attorney General’s office to run for Governor. Tthe Democrats didn’t have any time to put anyone good to run against him. If Gregoire was still the AG do you really think she would have joined this suit? Of course not. She’s leading the fight against it.

    Also all but one of the AG’s who filed this suit are Republicans.

    Sounds like AG Rob McKenna listens more to his own (Republican) party than he does to the people of how own (Democratic) state.

  10. Whatever1214 says:

    It is quite reasonable to question the constitutionality of a law that forces citizens to purchase a product from a private company or face fines or, possibly, jail time.

  11. The Queen is (again) over stepping her boundries. Last night she told KING5 that the AG was not working for her. That implies constitutionally, he does, in her mind.

    Note to the Queen – The AG works for the people of this state as defined by the state and federal constitution. Please take note that you are covered by the same job limitations.

  12. dankuykendall says:

    Christine would have been voted out anyway because of all the money her office cost the state taxpayers from missing filing deadlines. I bet that the money that was paid out because of her lack of supervison will be more than this law suit costs.
    This is nothing more than political grandstanding by Jeannie Darneille . and Christine.

  13. Faceplant says:

    The legislature’s control of the purse strings is an textbook example of those checks and balances. McKenna has every right to file a lawsuit without the permission of the governor, or the legislature, and the legislature has every right to cut off his funding.

    I’m not sure how people can, in the same sentence, both praise checks and balances, and then decry the legislature for excercizing it’s “check” on the attorney general?

  14. Faceplant says:

    “The Queen is (again) over stepping her boundries. Last night she told KING5 that the AG was not working for her. That implies constitutionally, he does, in her mind.”

    As an elected official he is ultimately responsible to the people. However, according to the Washington State Constitution the Attorney General is an officer of the Executive Department. The “supreme executive power” of the state of Washington is vested in the Governor, who is charged with “supervising the conduct of all executive and ministerial offices” according to RCW 43.06.010.

    Furthermore, the attorney general is required by law to, “Consult with and advise the governor, members of the legislature, and other state officers…”.

    So technically, yes he does work for her.

  15. What about money McKenna and Staff has already spent?

  16. lovethemountains says:

    Hulk, tell me you don’t really want an AG that only follows what the governor and legislature say instead of his/her own opinion on legal matters, particularly with respect to constitutional questions. The dems have ignored legitimate constitutional questions throughout the entire period of debate. Win or lose I want to see the constitutional questions visited and decided upon by our courts. Are we to become a nation where one party, dem or rep, in total control can dictate when legal issues are to be visited and when they are not? Have you never heard of the concept of three branches of government?

  17. kareen01 says:

    I fully support Gov. Gregoire in this. The AG did not even do a “poll” of voters to get the public’s opinion. What a waste of money! Shame on him!

  18. Go, girl Go!!!!

  19. gigahertz says:

    Maybe the Governor of King County would let Rob have $20,000 for testing the constitutionality of federal legislation affecting states rights instead of spending it on radio collars for gophers as in her budget?

  20. Our U.S. senate and congressmen received over $4.6 million for their vote on health care…from health care lobbyists. You people who believe the insurance companies are in bed with the GOP are so brainwashed it’s no wonder you need the Democraic party to do your thinking. Next, they’ll be telling you what toilet paper to use.

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