The House Truly Agreed and Finally Passed legislation forbidding the governor from implementing rules to establish a health care exchange without legislative authority. Senate Bill 464, carried in the House by Rep. Burlison, re-states basic principles of administrative law.
Though this bill was related to the federal health care law, it was much bigger than that. For centures, before even the founding of our country, western society has benefited from a quaint little concept called the rule of law. We are a nation of laws and not men – and one manifestation of that is the first rule of administrative law – that executive agencies cannot take any administrative actions without some grant of legislative authority.
Unfortunately, Governor Nixon spent $2 million to begin the process of creating administrative rules relating to a health care exchange before the legislature ever gave him authority to do so. Just last year I voted for a bill to give such authorization. I think its the smart, and mature, thing to do because, if we don’t do it, the federal government will do it for us. Just because we don’t like the rules imposed by the federal government doesn’t mean we should just flout them when the consequences are to give up all of our own authority. But, despite my own belief that creating the rules for the exchange is the right thing to do, until the legislature grants the authority to do so – the Governor CANNOT take steps to adopt such rules.
In today’s debate I was reminded of a powerful scene from the movie “A Man for All Seasons,” about Saint Thomas Moore:
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!