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Morning Read: Cuccinelli: Today Is Heart of Supreme Court Case

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AM Read: Tuesday's Supreme Court Hearing

Virginia Attorney General's Office

Ken Cuccinelli

It's day two of the U.S. Supreme Court's hearing of the federal health care bill, and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and legal experts say today's arguments will be the most important for the states trying to knock down the health care law. 

Cuccinelli was one of the first people to file suit and challenge President Barack Obama’s health care act.

The court will hear arguments today on whether the bill’s individual mandate—or the provision requiring people to buy insurance—is constitutional.

Cuccinelli has filed an amicus brief arguing that the individual insurance mandate provision is unconstitutional and an overreach of congressional power.

VIA The Free-Lance Star,

“Tomorrow is the heart of the case,” Cuccinelli said Monday. “Whether the government’s power under the commerce clause, the power to regulate interstate commerce, extends so far that they can compel you and I to buy a product, in other words compel us into commerce They have never supposed themselves to have this power before.”

Cuccinelli also highlighted questions from Justice Elena Kagan, who asked during Monday’s oral arguments whether a person who declined to buy insurance and then paid the penalty would be in violation of federal law. 

On Saturday, Cuccinelli spoke at a “Road to Repeal” Rally in Washington D.C. along with Herman Cain to show his opposition toward the health care bill.

Blue Virginia reports that the attorney general has said in the past that he would block the health care law no matter the outcome of the Supreme Court case. But he later denied every saying that he planned to ignore the law if it is upheld.

* The Virginia Senate finally passed a budget Monday night, officially ending a budget standoff that resulted in legislators failing to pass a spending plan during the regular legislative session.

The two year, $85 million budget pumps tens of million of additional dollars into public schools, health care and transportation, notably $300 million for a Metrorail extension to Dulles Airport.

But the budget doesn’t include one major Democrat request: funding of a controversial government mandate that will require women to get an ultrasound prior to an abortion starting in July.

The amendment to fund the ultrasounds failed with a 20-19 vote largely along party
lines, with Democrat anti-abortion Sen. Charles Colgan with with Republicans, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Republican Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, who sponsored the original bill but later asked the chamber to strike it amid national pressure from the left, ,did not vote on the amendment Monday.

Democrats had voted against the budget two previous times, trying to use their budget votes in exchange for more equal power in certain Senate committees.

Despite the Senate being split 20-20, Republicans had the upper-hand in most votes because Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a Republican, was able to cast tie-breaking votes.

But Bolling is not allowed to vote for the budget, allowing Democrats to use this key vote to take a stance.

The RTD Editorial Board wrote that Monday night’s vote signals positive movement.

Virginia lawmakers have cleared away most of the roadblocks stopping them from passing a budget. This is good news.

The principal change seems to be Democratic senators' decision — late but wise — to decouple fiscal matters from the dispute over committee assignments. That was a dog for them politically; they risked looking like sore losers taking the budget hostage out of partisan power-hunger.

But the Editorial Board said the decision to fight for government funding for mandated ultrasounds was a battle worth fighting.

A possible exception is the Democrats' proposal to have the state pay for pre-abortion ultrasounds that Republicans mandated this year. From the Democratic perspective, the mandate is an infringement on a woman's reproductive rights and a doctor's medical autonomy, and the least the state can do is offset the cost. If there is a principled reason why the state should not do what the Democrats propose, we haven't heard it.

* Sen. Chap Petersen announced Monday that he plans to form a PAC to help elect Democrats to office in 2013, according to The Washington Post.

Peterson has not yet announced whether he will run next year.

The Virginia state Senator unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor in 2005 and has expressed interest in running for governor and attorney general.

* D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is asking the D.C. Council to approve legislation that would repay city employees the wages they lost during furlough days last year, The Washington Post reported from an e-mail the city administrator sent to representatives of labor unions.

In an effort to close a then-$188 million budget gap, hundreds of city employees were not paid for President’s Day, Emancipation Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day.

Essential personnel such as firefighters and police officers were not affected.

According to The Post, the furlough days saved the District an estimated $19.3 million. City administrator Allen Y. Lew said in the email to labor representatives that Gray will propose to return the wages from a portion of new project revenue.

* A bill seeking to foster development of an offshore wind farm near Ocean City was passed through a Maryland House Committee Monday.

A key part of Gov. O’Malley’s environmental agenda, the bill is likely to receive a vote by the end of the week, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The legislation would encourage a developer to build a wind farm off the coast of Ocean City by guaranteeing the developer a customer base once the wind farm is running.
 

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