By Jonathan Wilson
Virginia state lawmakers are the first in the nation to pass legislation banning the federal health insurance mandate that could come with a Congressional health care overhaul.
The state's House of Delegates voted 80 to 17, and the Senate voted 23 to 17, in favor of the bill. Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican from Prince William County, is the bill's main sponsor.
"The bottom line is, we're not going to accept, without a challenge, this claim by the federal government that they can compel individuals to purchase insurance," says Marshall.
The measure now goes to Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who plans to sign it.
Marshall says the bill allows Virginia's attorney general to represent Virginians who want to opt out of a federal mandate if the Democrats' health legislation becomes law.
"It sets up a situation where the Attorney General, with his 270 lawyers, will defend me, Bob Marshall, or Sally Smith or whomever, from the broad overreach of the federal government," he says.
34 other state legislatures are working on similar measures, based on model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council. Some legal experts say states do not have the power to nullify federal law in this way.