Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Push coming to shove on Kentucky's welfare state mentality

Less than a week remains for Frankfort's three leading politicians to respond to the tea party lawsuit seeking to stop Kentucky's Medicaid expansion and the defendants have so far exercised their right to remain silent.

Governor Steve Beshear and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, as Obama Democrats, can't be expected to hold the rule of law in very high regard. As such, they may even be planning to run another goofy "citizens can't complain" legal gambit up the flagpole. Who knows?

Senate President Robert Stivers may have the more complicated situation. He says he opposes ObamaCare and, indeed, he voted earlier this year to force Gov. Beshear to gain legislative approval before expanding Medicaid, but only under ObamaCare.

This is possibly quite a substantial "but." KRS 205.520(3), which the Senate sought to amend with SB 39 in the 2013 General Assembly, is entirely unconstitutional. The statute grants limitless powers to the Cabinet Secretary of Health and Family Services to apply for federal dollars for "medical assistance." SB 39 would have left that power in place except for as it relates to the very unpopular ObamaCare law. But it violates Section 2 of Kentucky's Constitution in every case, not just this one.

So does Sen. Stivers want to keep this executive power intact so he or someone in his political party may continue to use it? We don't know yet. Frankfort Republicans have been known to get somewhat weak-kneed at the hint of federal dollars, but this case should give Sen. Stivers a chance to firm up his party's reputation on that front.

Sure hope he takes us up on it.