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AG vows to sue over mandated health insurance
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Virginia Attorney Ken Cuccinelli (left) addresses the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday at the Dutch Inn. (Bulletin photo)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Healthcare Freedom Act awaiting Gov. Bob McDonnell's signature will put Virginia in a better position to challenge mandatory health care insurance.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who was in Martinsville early Tuesday to discuss work force and economic development, public safety and health care, said the legislation approved in the recent General Assembly session "will give us more basis to challenge" a federal insurance mandate if one is approved.

Federal law usually trumps state statutes, Cuccinelli said.

However, if McDonnell signs the health care act and the federal insurance mandate is approved, "I intend to file suit" to challenge the law's constitutionality, he said.

If that happens, it would be the second major suit for Cuccinelli, who took office in January.

He also has filed a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency to challenge the regulation of greenhouse gases, he said.

According to online reports, the EPA in December declared that carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases from power plants, autos and factories threaten "the public health and welfare of the American people."�

That regulation would be worse than cap and trade legislation, Cuccinelli said of a system used to control pollution by selling the right to emit carbon and setting limits, or caps, on the amount that can be produced.

Many see cap and trade as a new tax that will affect workers, not businesses.

If the greenhouse gas regulation is implemented, it "will be more of a job and investment killer long term than cap and trade" because it would require certain companies to pay regulatory and/or permitting fees, Cuccinelli said.

Currently, some companies pay other regulatory fees of $125,000, he said.

Even if a permit cost half that amount, it "would be quite a hit to a business" that would have created jobs and made capital investments in Virginia, Cuccinelli said.

In addition, the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) lacks the manpower to oversee compliance and other issues related to the greenhouse gas regulation, Cuccinelli said.

Cuccinelli said the report cited by the EPA is based on "bad science" and data that cannot be corroborated.

The "EPA had an outcome they wanted, and they found data sets" that would produce that outcome, Cuccinelli said. The data, he added, "was doctored rather badly .... They (EPA) cannot show any potential benefit" of the regulation.

Cuccinelli said he had to beat a Feb. 16 deadline to contest the regulation.

He also discussed his recent letter to universities, in which Cuccinelli rendered a legal opinion that said colleges and universities should not include sexual orientation in their antidiscrimination policies.

"I had given some legal advice that made its way into the news," Cuccinelli said.

After opposition arose, McDonnell issued a statement that workplace discrimination is illegal based on federal and state regulations, and he sent a directive encouraging state universities to adopt standards to that effect.

Cuccinelli noted that will not change the way his office responds to other requests.

"When asked for advice" in the future, "I am going to give it," he said.

 

 
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