PICKENS COUNTY—Concerns are being raised about portions of a bill in the S.C. Legislature that would make The Affordable Care Act illegal and would call for fines and/or jail time for those who attempt to implement parts of that federal legislation in the state.
State Republicans are trying to eliminate the impact of the health care bill in South Carolina, but State Sen. Larry Martin (R-Pickens) says there are many problems with the legislation.
“There is a bill that has been filed by Republicans to nullify the portion of the law that is being upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court,” Martin said. “They’re trying to make the same argument that John C. Calhoun made in the 1820s and 1830s. Back then there was a major tariff debate that the agrarian state of South Carolina thought favored the manufacturing interests in the north at their expense.”
Martin said “the issue of nullification was settled more than 150 years ago,” referring to the Nullification Act of 1832 in which Calhoun tried to give the states the right to supersede federal law.
“Nullification is not in keeping with our system of three branches of government,” Martin said. “The ink wouldn’t be dry on that legislation before a federal judge set it aside.”
The proposed bills, known as State House Bill 3101 and State Senate Bill 0102, would potentially nullify the Affordable Care Act, which is the official name to what some refer to as Obamacare.
The House version would make it a misdemeanor for state officials found to be implementing the law. Federal officials found to be implementing the law in South Carolina would be guilty of a felony under the proposed legislation.
“It’s a pretty discredited notion that a state has the right (to nullify federal law),” Martin said. “James Madison provided a way for states to deal with a constitutional issue that they felt strongly was being ignored, circumvented or perverted by the national congress or administration. Secession and nullification are not provided for in the Constitution.”
Martin said, while he does not agree with the health care bill, nullification is not the route to go.
“I don’t agree with the 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court (to uphold the Affordable Care Act) but that is the constitutional process,” Martin said. “What nullification suggests is that we’re ignoring our federal law and Constitution which we all took an oath to defend and uphold.”
The State senator said he does not think there will much support for the bills in the S.C. General Assembly.
“I hope there’s not (support) behind this,” Martin said. “The South Carolina General Assembly doesn’t need to be spending time on issues that would only bring South Carolina into a poor light nationally. We need to worry about getting ourselves prepared for the next election cycle and righting the wrongs that plague our county at the ballot box.”
“There are other ways to deal with this,” he said.