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2006-02-19
Seattle, WA. Fair Share Health Care Bill On Hold

Attempts by lawmakers in Washington State to imitate the "fair share" health care bill now law in Maryland has apparently been grounded for the immediate future. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the chief sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Eileen Cody (D-Seattle} said she had the votes needed to pass the bill, but the Democratic leader of the House, Speaker Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) did not allow the measure to be reported out of committee and onto the floor for a vote. The deadline for floor action is now over, and the full session in Washington state will end March 9th. "There's always a chance while we're in session, but I'd say it's dead," Rep. Cody told the WSJ. Cody's legislation requires companies with more than 5,000 employees to spend 9% of their state payroll on health-benefits for their employees, or pay the difference into a fund for health insurance for the poor. In Maryland, the threshold was 10,000 or more workers, and 8% of payroll, but the salient features of the two proposals are the same. The Maryland law is being legally challenged by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), which has Wal-Mart as a prominent member. Democrats hold a majority in both branches of the Washington legislature, and the Governor is a Democrat. Similar legislation has been filed in as many as 30 states. Sprawl-Busters wrote about the recent Washington State report that showed Wal-Mart has more employees on Medicaid, a state and federal health insurance plan, than any other employer in the state. In effect, Wal-Mart has shifted its health care costs to the public taxpayers. Rep. Cody intimated that the Speaker was afraid the 'fair share' bill would have become an election issue in November if the legislature had passed it, and that corporations would have flooded the state with money against candidates who voted for the measure. "He was worried that, because the bill had garnered so much national attention, money from out of state would have come in during the next election cycle," Rep. Cody told the WSJ.

What you can do: Supporters of the fair share health care bill can gather signatures to put the measure before the voters next November. For earlier stories on this topic, search by "health care." To get a sample "fair share" bill for your state, contact info@sprawl-busters.com.










 
 
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