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Alaska House to vote on fighting federal health care act

From Sean Cockerham in Juneau –

The Alaska House of Representatives is about to vote on amending the state Constitution to fight the Congressional health care reform law.

But if the House does pass it, the Senate almost certainly won’t.

House Joint Resolution 35 has cleared the finance committee and has made it to the floor for a vote. That could be tonight but more likely tomorrow.

The proposal would amend the Alaska Constitution to say no law can compel a person to participate in a health care system, or penalize them for doing so. It’s sponsored by Fairbanks Republican Rep. Mike Kelly.

Opponents say the Constitution shouldn’t be changed because of the political fight of the moment, and that there’s no way it would override the federal law.

“To pretend to the Alaska public that we as a state Legislature can play Congressmen on T.V and change a Congressional law with a piece of state legislation like this is to create false expectations in the public,” said Anchorage Democratic Rep. Les Gara.

Fairbanks Rep. Kelly said it's an important issue and other states are also gearing up to fight the health care law. “It’s hard to predict who wins or loses but certainly the fight is on,” Kelly said.

A Constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote of both the House and the Senate in order to go to the voters for approval. It’s questionable whether Kelly can get two-thirds support to pass the House.

And it stands little chance of getting majority support in the Senate -- much less two-thirds. Senate President Gary Stevens said the Senate doesn’t plan to launch an assault on the health care law before Sunday’s adjournment for the year.

Palmer Republican Rep. Carl Gatto is also pushing a bill aimed at the health care law.

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