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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Did Bill McCollum break state law with health care bill lawsuit?

25

March

When she bashed Attorney General Bill McCollum's health care lawsuit today, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chief Democratic whip in the House, let slip an interesting charge: That McCollum failed to go through the proper legal channels before filing his suit.

"State law requires a study and to consult with the congressional delegation," she said.

She's right. Kind of. Statute 16.52 says as much (text at bottom).

But the attorney general's office struck back with a May 5, 1999 memo from then Attorney General Bob Butterworth (a Democrat) who said the office can initiate federal constitutional challenges under its common-law powers. In an interview, Butterworth said he didn't remember the memo or the statute cited by Wasserman Schultz, but he said he believed McCollum could file the suit without consulting Wasserman Schultz, et al. Download Butterworth

What's he think of the ObamaCare suit? Said Butterworth: "I haven't read it."

Spoken like a true AG.

The statute language:

"In order to provide for independent action and cooperative participation by the state in a program of concerted action among the states, and independent procedure to oppose any existing or proposed federal legislative encroachments upon constitutional state powers, it is hereby made a duty of the Department of Legal Affairs to make a study of federal legislation - existing and proposed - to determine whether such legislation has resulted, or may result, in objectionable or harmful encroachments upon the constitutional integrity of state governments, and with due regard to this state's full contribution to the national war effort, in cooperation with the attorneys general of other states, or alone, to pursue that course best calculated to preserve and safeguard the constitutional state powers of the government of this state. It shall furnish to each of the several representatives in the Congress from this state, a written statement giving the reasons for any action being considered, or about to be taken hereunder at the time; and if possible, shall procure the assistance of such representatives therein and therefor." 

Marc Caputo, Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:24pm]

    

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