MONTGOMERY — The battle over the federal health care plan has spread to the Alabama Senate, which passed a bill Thursday night to let Alabamians opt out.
The Senate voted 23-8 for a bill that would ensure that no person, employer or health care provider could be compelled to participate in any health care system.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, said it would help with the lawsuit that Alabama’s attorney general and other state attorneys general have filed over the federal plan.
Beason’s bill won’t take effect unless aproved by the House and by Alabama voters in a referendum on July 31.
Beason predicted his bill won’t make it that far in the Democrat-controlled Legislature. “They will bury it in the House and pretend there is not enough time” in the legislative session to consider it, he said.
Several legislators representing poor districts fought the bill. Sen. Roger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, said the federal health care plan will add 400,000 people to Alabama’s Medicaid rolls who now lack health care coverage.
“These are people who can’t buy lobbyists,” he said.
Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, said he objects to critics calling the federal plan “Obamacare.”
“He cares about our children,” Singleton said.
Opponents also predicted the bill wouldn’t survive a court challenge because state law can’t override federal law.
Beason’s bill originally called for the referendum in the general election Nov. 2, but the Senate voted to change the referendum to a special date without other issues on the ballot. Beason said Democrats didn’t want it on the general election ballot because it would cause a huge turnout by conservative voters.
The Senate’s action came two days after more than 250 people, including many Tea Party members, rallied on the Statehouse steps in support of Beason’s bill.
Beason’s bill originally called for the referendum in the general election on Nov. 2.
How they voted
Votes Thursday as the Alabama Senate, on a 23-8 vote, approved a bill to let Alabamians opt out of the federal health care plan. Voting yes were 12 Republicans and 11 Democrats. Voting no were 0 Republicans and 8 Democrats. Not voting were 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats. Abstaining were 0 Republicans and 0 Democrats.
REPUBLICANS VOTING YES
Beason, S. (Gardendale); Brooks, B. (Mobile); Dixon, L. (Montgomery); French, S. (Birmingham); Glover, R. (Semmes); Holley, J. (Elba); Marsh, D. (Anniston); Orr, A. (Decatur); Pittman, T. (Daphne); Sanford, P. (Huntsville); Smith, H.A. (Slocomb); Waggoner, J. (Vestavia Hills).
REPUBLICANS VOTING NO
DEMOCRATS VOTING YES
Barron, L. (Fyffe); Benefield, K (Woodland); Butler, T. (Madison); Denton, B. (Muscle Shoals); Keahey, M. (Grove Hill); Little, T. (Auburn); Little, Z. (Cullman); Means, L. (Attalla); Mitchell, W. (Luverne); Mitchem, H. (Union Grove); Preuitt, J. (Talladega).
DEMOCRATS VOTING NO
Coleman, L. (Birmingham); Dunn, P. (Bessemer); Figures, V. (Mobile); Penn, M. (Union Springs); Ross, Q. (Montgomery); Sanders, H. (Selma); Singleton, B. (Greensboro); Smitherman, R. (Birmingham).
REPUBLICANS NOT VOTING
Bishop, C. (Jasper); Erwin, H. (Montevallo).
DEMOCRATS NOT VOTING
Bedford, R. (Russellville); Poole, P. (Tuscaloosa).
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