Sen. Mae Beavers’ bill that attempts to block the most controversial component of the federal health care law had no problem moving along through the legislative process Tuesday.
The Senate Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee OK’d the bill by a 6-1 vote with Democratic Sen. Eric Stewart of Belvidere and Sen. Charlotte Burks of Monterey abstaining. Only Democratic Sen. Reginald Tate of Memphis voted against the bill.
SB79’s one minor speedbump during committee discussion included a short bit of questioning about an amendment Beavers added protecting businesses’ authority to require an employee enroll in a health plan.
Stewart, a Democrat who voted in favor of a similar bill last year, said he regarded it hypocritical to let employers force employees to purchase a company insurance as a condition of employment while at the same time attacking the federal government for its individual health insurance mandate provision.
Beavers countered that no one forces an individual to work for a particular company. She said her bill is aimed at positioning the state to help protect against the federal government coercing private individual behavior under penalty of law as a condition of living in American society. That’s different than a business requiring participation in a health plan as a condition of employment, Beavers said.
“A person has a choice of whether or not to work for that company that mandates that they take their health care so you still have a choice there,” said Beavers after the committee meeting. “Whereas with national health care, you’re not going to have a choice, you’re going to be required to take insurance.”
Passage of SB79 out of committee means the measure will make its way to the Senate floor. The House version still awaits a hearing. Beavers is also pushing a bill to create health care compacts in another strategy to derail federal health care reforms. She said she expects to take up that issue in committee next week.