Does Virginia Senator Richard L. Saslaw Need a Lesson in History?

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In a stunning remark made by Senator Richard L. Saslaw in the Commerce and Labor Committee yesterday afternoon, he made it obvious he does not understand the role of state government. It brings into question whether he is qualified to do his job as a legislator of the Commonwealth.

Delegate Robert G. Marshall’s Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act, HB10, which had already passed in the House, was being considered by Chairman Saslaw’s senate committee. The bill states that “No law shall restrict an individual’s natural right and power of contract to choose private health care systems or private plans”. Delegate Marshall argued that “never has Congress mandated that individuals buy anything”. Senator Saslaw stunned members of the tea party movement in attendance in support of the measure with his comment “you’re telling me that we’re going to tell Congress what to do? Congress can do whatever it wants.”

Senator Saslaw demonstrates that he doesn’t know that it was the states that created the federal government, wrote the U.S. Constitution, and insisted on a Bill of Rights to spell out what the government can do.

Senator Saslaw makes it clear that he believes his role as a state legislator is to serve as an arm of the federal government and administer to it rather than defend state’s rights against the overreaching power by the federal government to ensure the sovereignty of the state.

History tells us that the states didn't want to lose the ability to make regional decisions nor to be subject to a greater authority. The Framers wanted to assure that the states would remain largely in charge within their own borders.

They felt so strongly about this principle that they codified it in law as the Tenth Amendment:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

When legislators of the Commonwealth do not understand the job they were elected to do, it is questionable whether they should keep it. Perhaps Senator Saslaw should take a lesson in history.

To the surprise of supporters of the HB10, Senator Normant first vote "no" effectively killing the bill. Delegate Marshall's appeal to the Senator to move to substitute the language for the language of Senator Vogel's SB417, already passed by the committee, put it up for a second vote and was reported with a vote of 8 - 7.  It will now go to the Senate floor for a vote.