Critical Condition

Virginia Moves Toward Outlawing Individual Mandate

Virginia’s Democratic-controlled state senate passed a measure yesterday that would make individual health-insurance mandates illegal.

The bills, a top priority of Virginia’s “tea party” movement, were approved 23 to 17 as five Democrats who represent swing areas of the state joined all 18 Republicans in the chamber in backing the legislation.

The votes came less than a week after President Obama implored Democrats in Washington not to abandon their health-care efforts, urging them in his State of the Union address not to “run for the hills” on the issue.

But the action in Virginia, a state that backed Obama in 2008, could indicate that the president is failing to reassure members of his own party that current reform efforts remain worthwhile. The votes also suggest that Democrats on the state level fear that supporting health-care reform could be politically damaging, and their action could put pressure on members of the state’s congressional delegation who have been behind the effort.

“It doesn’t make it easier,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, who voted for health-care legislation and is one of several Virginia Democrats facing a strong challenge this year. . . .

The bills were also expected to be approved by the GOP-controlled House of Delegates. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said he will review the bills but supports their intent.

The measure is potentially little more than a “brochure bill” since it will be superseded by a federal individual mandate if and when it is passed. But Virginia’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli II (R.), said the measure could give the state government standing in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the mandate at the federal level.

You’ve got to love Virginia, which has been nullifying federal laws back when James Madison’s best days were still ahead of him.

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