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Church State Issues

Medicaid expansion enters legal chaos zone

Feb 15, 2014

Arizona Republic

Arizona elected officials - F*ck the voters, we are going to do whatever we feel like.

This also applies to Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act where the cops have jumped thru some convoluted insane logic to say the act doesn't mean what it says and are continuing to arrest medical marijuana patients on bogus DWI/DUI charges and bogus charges of possession of hashish and other concentrated forms of marijuana.

The act says medical marijuana patients are not guilty of DUI/DWI if they have tiny amounts of marijuana metabolites in their bodies, but the cops are still arresting them, because they don't want Prop 203 to cut into the revenue they make from DUI arrests.

Prop 203 says marijuana is legal for medical marijuana patients. The law doesn't exclude any specific form of marijuana, nor say that it doesn't apply to concentrated forms of marijuana, such as hashish or hash oil. But the cops are also using some convoluted, irrational logic to continue their revenue producing war on drugs against medical marijuana patients and are arrest them for hashish and hash oil, both which should be legal under Prop 203.

Another example of government tyranny on Prop 203 is the part which allows the citizens of Arizona to add new illnesses to the list of things that marijuana can be prescribed for.

Government tyrant Will Humble who runs the Arizona Department of Health Services says he will only added new illnesses to the list, when the illnesses are documented by medical research saying that marijuana can cure them.

And of course that makes a catch 22 because under Federal law it is illegal to to the medical research which Will Humble demands to add a illness to the list.

And of course the politicians routinely twist the words of the Constitution around to justify passing laws forcing us to obey THEIR religious laws.

Medicaid expansion enters legal chaos zone

In 1992, 975,191 Arizonans voted yes on Proposition 108. It passed with 72 percent of the vote.

Prop. 108 amended the state Constitution to require that any measure increasing state revenues be enacted by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature. The amendment was clearly intended to constrain and limit what a legislative majority could do.

According to Judge Katherine Cooper, those 975,191 Arizonans wasted their vote. According to her, a legislative majority determines whether it is constrained and limited by Prop. 108. Which, of course, means that it isn’t.

The context was a lawsuit challenging the hospital assessment used to fund the state’s share of Medicaid expansion. It was enacted by a legislative majority that fell short of two-thirds in either chamber.

There’s been a lot of useless debate about whether the assessment is a tax or a fee. Under Prop. 108, it doesn’t matter. Prop. 108 says that the two-thirds requirement applies to “the authorization of any new administratively set fee.” That’s what the Legislature enacted. The two-thirds vote requirement applied.

The enactment was challenged by legislators who voted against it. Cooper said they didn’t have standing to sue.

Just last year, however, the state Supreme Court said that members of the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments had standing to challenge legislation attempting to increase the number of nominees that get to the governor. The bill said that to send a smaller number required a two-thirds vote.

According to the court’s decision, the individual members had standing, in part, because the legislation “alters how the votes of individual commissioners will determine the Commission’s action.”

So, how do commissioners of a judicial nominating panel have standing to challenge a dilution of the influence of their individual vote, but members of the Legislature not have similar standing? Cooper’s attempt to explain that is, frankly, an intellectual embarrassment.

But I do not want to beat up on Cooper too much. Recently, she did a workmanlike job sorting through some knotty legal issues in finding that Phoenix taxpayers paying the salaries of union officials violated the state Constitution’s anti-subsidy clause.

And, in fairness to her, the courts above have made a hash of the question of what constitutional provisions and statutes bind the Legislature and which it can ignore.

The state Constitution delays the effective date of most legislation to permit voters to refer the enactment to the ballot. An exception is made for emergency bills that “require earlier operation to preserve the public peace, health or safety.” Those go into effect immediately if passed by a two-thirds vote. Eons ago, the courts decided the Legislature gets to determine what’s an emergency. These days, the emergencies are mostly political.

In the 1980s, the state Supreme Court decided the executive branch had to provide mental health services purportedly required by statute even though the Legislature hadn’t appropriated money for them. In the 1990s, the court became highly prescriptive about what the state Constitution’s requirement that the Legislature provide a “general and uniform public school system” meant when it came to capital funding.

In 2007, however, the court concluded that the Legislature and the Board of Regents were to decide what the state Constitution means by making university tuition “as nearly free as possible.” In 2011, the Court of Appeals decided that the Legislature had to supplement funding for Medicaid enrollees as required by a 2000 ballot initiative from “any other available sources,” but that the Legislature determines whether it has done so. The state Supreme Court declined an appeal.

Nevertheless, the Supremes, last year, decided that the Legislature did have to comply with another 2000 ballot measure requiring it to increase the beginning point of the school finance formula by inflation each year.

It’s impossible to decoct a guiding principle from that jurisprudence stew. It’s seemingly random.

The education inflation case has been remanded to the unlucky Cooper to decide how to implement it. Here’s a thought: Why doesn’t the Legislature just pass a resolution declaring itself in compliance?

See what the judge does with that.