Lawmakers March 29 convened a special session designed to give Gov. Jan Brewer clear authority to sue the federal government over the recently enacted health care reform legislation on the grounds that it violates Arizona’s sovereignty.
Lawmakers will consider a pair of Republican-crafted measures: One would give Brewer statutory authority to represent the state in a lawsuit, while the other would ask Congress to pay for mandated health care spending.
Identical bills were filed in the House and Senate. Both chambers have scheduled committee hearings for March 30 and are expected to vote on them the following day. With all Republicans anticipated to vote for the measures, there is little doubt they will be approved.
Democrats said the exercise amounted to little more than a dog-and-pony show meant to benefit Brewer, who is seeking an election to a complete term in office later this year.
“I think, you know, from one perspective the governor has to take this position because of her campaign,” Senate Minority Leader Jorge Luis Garcia said. “She needs to play to her base (and say) that she is not going to be bullied by the feds into spending more money than what the state has.”
Brewer is proceeding with the lawsuit, in part, because Attorney General Terry Goddard – the presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee this year – declined last week to join 13 other states in pursuing a challenge of the federal health care reform.
Goddard said Arizona would have little hope of winning and the suit would end up being a waste of money.
House Minority Leader David Lujan concurred, saying the case “is frivolous and is based neither on fact or the law.” Lujan, an attorney, is seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general.
-Capitol Times writer Luige del Puerto contributed to this report