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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

June 29, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Friday briefing: All health care all the time

Good morning and Happy Friday:

One thing is certain:  Democrats are happy now to talk about the federal health-care law.

Gov. Chris Gregoire

Democrats around the country are reveling in the U.S. Supreme Court decision Thursday that upheld the sweeping health-care law. In Washington state,  Democratic Gov. Gregoire, a former three-term attorney general, took after Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, two-term attorney general.  Gregoire was royally miffed when McKenna joined the lawsuit opposing the health-care law without checking with her first.

The News Tribune noted that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a concurring opinion for the court in the health care case, cited an amicus brief filed on behalf of Gregoire.

The Times’ Bob Young filed this post about the court ruling and the two candidates for attorney general.

In practical terms, the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act appears to have no major impact on the race to be the state’s next attorney general.

Although current Attorney General Rob McKenna joined a lawsuit challenging the law, leading candidates in this year’s race – Republican Reagan Dunn and Democrat Bob Ferguson – say they don’t see big implications for the next attorney general in the court’s decision.  (Dunn opposed the law, supported McKenna’s lawsuit and predicted the Supremes would dump the individual mandate in the law. Ferguson praised the law, called McKenna’s lawsuit a “waste,” and predicted the court would uphold the law.)

Dunn said the next AG may be advising state agencies on how to implement the law, but doesn’t see a role beyond that. Ferguson agreed the AG might be advising on implementation, but said it would be premature to speculate beyond that.

Despite his opposition to the individual mandate, Dunn said “even a 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court is the law, and, as attorney general, I will follow and honor the law.” He said he wouldn’t use the AG’s post to support congressional efforts to repeal the law. “That’s beyond the scope of the attorney general. If you want to be setting health-care policy in the U.S., run for Congress.”

Politically, Ferguson said Dunn’s judgment on the matter is something for voters to consider, particularly because the state attorney general decides which cases to take to the Supreme Court.

“It’s a factor for voters to look at, Who better understands constitutional issues at play and which cases to pursue as attorney general,” Ferguson said.

Dunn maintained that McKenna’s lawsuit showed good judgment. “That’s the kind of case you need to challenge from time to time.” The court’s decision would help President Obama, he predicted, but he didn’t see it influencing the attorney general’s race.

Seattle’s plastic bag ban goes into effect this weekend. Sunday to be precise.  The city has been squabbling about this issue for years. A bag fee introduced years ago was called back by the voters. But this bag ban looks like it will stick. Here’s more information about it.









Comments | More in Governor, homepage, Politics Northwest | Topics: Affordable Care Act, Attorney General Rob McKenna, Bob Ferguson


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