Wednesday, August 19, 2015

State Legislature Sues Governor Over Medicaid Expansion

The ADN has the story.  Basically 
"a Republican-controlled House-Senate committee voted 10-1 to authorize spending up to $450,000 to hire a pair of law firms to work on a suit against the governor."

Voting in favor of hiring the two law firms were Republican Reps. 

Mike Chenault of Nikiski, 
Steve Thompson of Fairbanks, 
Craig Johnson and Charisse Millett of Anchorage and 
Mark Neuman of Big Lake, 

Democratic Rep. Bob Herron of Bethel  (member of the House Republican Majority)

Republican Sens. 
Anna MacKinnon of Eagle River, 
John Coghill of North Pole, 
Charlie Huggins of Wasilla and 
Kevin Meyer of Anchorage.

Voting against:

Democratic minority member, Juneau Rep. Sam Kito.

"Two Republican senators from coastal areas typically viewed as more moderate, Gary Stevens of Kodiak and Peter Micciche of Soldotna, were absent, as was Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, who belongs to the Senate’s Republican majority.

Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, also missed the meeting. He was in Minnesota undergoing medical treatment but said by email he would have voted against hiring the law firms."

The DC Firm:  Bancroft PLLC   - This boutique DC firm, that epitomizes the DC revolving door.  From their own website:
"Bancroft PLLC was founded by former Assistant Attorney General Viet D. Dinh and now includes former Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, former Associate White House Counsel H. Christopher Bartolomucci, and other accomplished professionals focused on our clients’ most difficult and complex legal issues. Among our 12 lawyers are 6 U.S. Supreme Court clerkships, 12 U.S. Court of Appeals clerkships, and 5 Presidential appointments."
One of their top attorneys, Paul Clement, recently had his going hourly rate of $1,100 cut to $300:
"— Judge Mae D’Agostino of the Northern District of New York, giving the reasons for slashing Paul Clement’s customary $1,100 hourly rate to $300 per hour when awarding attorneys’ fees in Osterweil v. Bartlett, a Second Amendment case.
(For what it’s worth, $1,100 was Clement’s hourly rate in 2011, when he was began representing Osterweil. Clement’s current hourly rate is $1,350. Osterweil would’ve been getting a deal!)"
Another Bancroft attorney was denied his claim that he worked while driving to the office.

Obamacare is not a new topic for this company.  They represented the 26 states that went to the Supreme Court over  Obamacare in 2012.

Anchorage based firm:  Holmes, Weddle, and Barcott.

Who's Calling The Shots Here?

Not clear.  We know that the Koch supported Americans For Prosperity has been strongly opposed to Obamacare.  Presumably they are working with key members of the House and Senate Majorities on this.  But we shouldn't leap to conclusions.  Maybe others are involved too.   It would be interesting to learn who Meyers, Chenault, and the others talk to behind closed doors and what they talk about.

The members of the Majority seem to believe that they are immune to electoral removal.  Redistricting has given many of them comfortable seats.  But I don't suspect they realize how many people are affected by this who may well be motivated to vote in 2016.

Not only are they still dragging their feet on expanding Medicaid, but they've allocated up to $450,000 on this for their attorneys.  And the governor's office will probably have to spend just as much to defend his decision.  Sure is easy to spend other people's money, it seems.  The Republicans also spent millions of dollars over the years in unsuccessful lobbying efforts to open up ANWR.

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