Rep. Walrath said, There’s certainly concern about whether or not this amendment is ready to be adopted. The amendment itself would require that it be the obligation of the Legislature to enact and implement laws to ensure that no resident lacks coverage. I think the argument the Senate chair put before us are a reason we have to look at this again. The amendment is quite broad and it’s worded such that I’m sure the actual interpretation would be determined by the court. If a change would be needed, the complexity of health care almost guarantees that there need to be some changes. If it were a constitutional amendment, that would be four years before a change could take place. We’ve had progress large and small. There are certainly a lot of uncertainties here. And with the bill certainly the best in the nation, I think we should do our very best to make sure that that works.
Sen. Jehlen said, I want to compare the recent action on health care reform to the years we spent trying to reform education. We would change the formula, we would change the requirements. It was only in 1993 that we maintained the commitment. Even with the guarantee, we slipped back during bad times. I believe the constitutional right is a good idea and would provide a backstop and would enable us to maintain our commitment. This is a procedural vote, to get it out of committee.
Sen. Montigny said, I know the time is short, but there should be some commendation. I think it is appropriate to say we’ve done great things. But as someone who’s been involved in most major health care expansions and minor ones over the last few years here, we have all failed. We spend more money than any state in the country and we still have thousands of people uninsured. If I polled everyone in this room, I believe they would put health care at the top of the list in terms of concerns expressed to them by their constituents. There were smiles today at the announcement it would take two-thirds because everyone knows that will be difficult.
I’ll just conclude by thanking you for the podium and imploring my colleagues to vote the matter out of the committee.
Sen. Tolman said, You know, earlier today we passed an amendment to put before the public. Amendment’s very controversial. But the fact is we’re putting it before the public. The court ruled that the members of the joint session have a constitutional duty to vote the yeas and nays on the merits of all pending initiative petitions. We’re not asking you to vote on the actual health care amendment. What I’m asking you to do is discharge the bill out of committee.
At 5:43 PM, the clerk began calling the roll.
By a vote of 92-101, amendment not reported out of committee.
So much for upholding the State Constitution, their Oath of Office as Legislators, and the recent Decision of the State Supreme Court that every amendment must receive two concon votes on its merits.
Good gosh this testimony makes me cringe for a host of reasons. No wonder our state is so dysfunctional.
Ending on a postive note, mountain-tops KUDOS go out to Senators Tolman, Jehlen and Montigny for their leadership on the HCA and on so many other issues that are vital to us ordinary folk in Massachusetts.