- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 31, 2009

AGs attack

The move among Republican state attorneys general against the “Cornhusker Compromise” gained more momentum Wednesday when more than a dozen top state lawyers sent a letter to Congress threatening a constitutional challenge against the key health care bill provision.

According to a letter obtained by The Washington Times and other publications on Wednesday night, South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster and the 12 other attorneys general told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, that “we believe this provision is constitutionally flawed.”

“As chief legal officers of our states, we are contemplating a legal challenge to this provision, and we ask you to take action to render this challenge unnecessary by striking that provision,” they wrote.

The 13 AGs, all Republicans, represent Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

The “Cornhusker Compromise” exempted the state of Nebraska from paying its share of Medicaid expansion costs in a bid to win the vote of Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat. (Vermont and Massachusetts got similar deals.) The other states maintain that this violates constitutional provisions guaranteeing equal protection of the law.

Bill McCollum, Florida’s Republican attorney general, also said Tuesday that he and other top state lawyers should study a provision in the legislation requiring Americans to purchase health insurance to see whether it warrants legal action as well.

N.H. law

Gay marriage becomes legal in New Hampshire at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s, making it the fifth state to allow members of the same sex to marry.

Two years ago, the Granite State passed a law legalizing civil unions; now those couples may apply for a marriage license. If they do not, their civil union license will automatically become marriage licenses in 2011, reports the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper of Manchester.

Sparing Christmas

There weren’t many chestnuts roasting on the open fire in California’s Bay Area on Christmas, but there might have been a few. And those enjoying them were likely punished for it.

Forty-seven Californians were handed citations over the Christmas holiday for burning wood fires in violation of local clean-air rules. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District reported handing out 47 warnings on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The citations could carry a hefty fine, too. The citations turn into $400 fines for residents who have received warnings in the past.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District regularly declares Spare the Air days, during which residents cannot burn wood, pellets or manufactured fire logs. The winter season runs from Nov. 1, 2009, to Feb. 28, 2010, and a Spare the Air alert is issued when morning forecasts show that concentrations of fine particulate matter exceed the national health standard.

On the mornings of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the particulate-matter forecast was high, and the alert was issued, thereby prohibiting any fires.

During a Spare the Air alert day, residents are forbidden to burn fires in their fireplaces, unless a wood-burning fire is the only source of heat for the residence or commercial space.

Quote of year

The media trackers at Newsbusters.org, housed inside the conservative-leaning Media Research Center, have awarded Melissa Lafsky their “Quote of the Year” showcasing liberal bias.

Ms. Lafsky, a writer whose works have appeared at the New York Times and Discover magazine, wondered in a piece for the Huffington Post in August if the woman that the now-deceased Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, allowed to die in a car crash would think her demise was “worth it” because of the great things the senator later accomplished.

“Mary Jo wasn’t a right-wing talking point or a negative campaign slogan,” Ms. Lafsky wrote. “We don’t know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what she’d have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history. … [One wonders what] Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Ted’s death, and what she’d have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded. Who knows maybe she’d feel it was worth it.”

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@ washingtontimes.com.

• Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@washingtontimes.com.

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