Virginia’s General Assembly became the first in the nation Wednesday to approve legislation that bucks any attempt by President Barack Obama and Congress to implement a national health care overhaul in individual states.
The Republican-ruled House of Delegates, with wide Democratic support, voted 80-17 without debate for the largely symbolic step aimed at the Democratic-backed reforms pushed by Obama and stalled in Congress. The vote sends the measure to Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell who intends to sign it.
Thirty-four other state legislatures have either filed or proposed similar measures — statutes or constitutional amendments — rejecting health insurance mandates, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Obama carried Virginia in his historic ride to the presidency in 2008, the first Democrat to do so in a presidential race in 44 years. But since then, the tide has turned. Virginia’s Republicans routed Democrats in last year’s gubernatorial and legislative elections, partly because of public distrust of Democrats’ proposed health care reforms.
GOP lawmakers expedited the bill and three others like it as a legislative statement reflecting broad voter discontent over the proposed reforms. Virginia’s legislative session is, on average, the nation’s briefest, and the bill passed four days ahead of Saturday’s scheduled adjournment.
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