GOP urges amendment while Pawlenty retreats

  • Article by: BOB VON STERNBERG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 15, 2009 - 12:35 AM

Republican state legislators seek a potential constitutional showdown over he federal health care overhaul, but Gov. Tim Pawlenty is backing away.

Even as three Republican state legislators are pushing for a potential constitutional showdown to sidestep a federal health care overhaul, Gov. Tim Pawlenty is backing off from such a move.

Reps. Tom Emmer of Delano, Mark Buesgens of Jordan and Peggy Scott of Andover held a news conference at the State Capitol Monday to announce a proposed state constitutional amendment that would guarantee Minnesotans the right to choose private health care plans. There is no law in place that forces Minnesotans to go on publicly assisted health care.

Such an amendment, which would have to be approved by voters, would "protect health care freedom of choice," Emmer said.

The bill also would prohibit fines for those who decline to participate in government health care mandates.

For Emmer, who's running for governor, it's a rerun of a proposal he has made previously, invoking states' rights under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

Invoking state sovereignty was also raised by Pawlenty last week as he roundly criticized President Obama's health care plans. At one point, Pawlenty suggested that a lawsuit could be the best recourse. He has since backed off that position, saying on ABC News' "This Week" that "I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a legal issue."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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