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AZ Week Notebook – February 2011

MEDICAID CUTS HAVE BIG HEALTH, ECONOMIC REPERCUSSIONS

Gov. Jan Brewer hoped to meet today in Washington, D.C., with Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, to discuss changes in Arizona's Medicaid programs.

Sebelius has already told Brewer that the cuts the governor wants to make in Arizona's health-care program for the poor are up to the state to make, and federal permission isn't needed. With that, state officials say they plan to move ahead with cuts to save$541.5 million in state funding to balance the budget for 2011-12. That also would lead to a loss of $1 billion in federal matching money to the state.

Those cuts would:

  • Drop from coverage 280,000 adults, many of them working in businesses that don't provide health care coverage.

  • Affect up to half the patients whose doctors practice in rural areas, causing hardship on the doctors and rural clinics and hospitals.

  • Cause the loss of 46,000 jobs in the state, most of them in the private sector, according to a study by Arizona State University economist Tom Rex.

To get perspective on it, we will seek to talk to several experts for Friday's program, including:

  • Laurie Liles, president and CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.

  • One or more physicians whose practices and patients would be affected.

  • Journalists who cover health care in the state.


FOR A LAWYER, HE WAS SUCCINCT

Attorney General Tom Horne walked in for our interview appointment Thursday morning, sat in his assigned chair and had the microphone connected in quick fashion. Then, just as quickly, he answered a dozen or so questions and was done with it.

Quick handshake, microphone off, out of the chair, and he was gone. It practically took a crew member longer to dab the glistening spot off his forehead than it did for him to be interviewed. (Watch the interview video, and you'll see that the crew spent no time with the glistening spots on my forehead.)

His brevity seemed a departure to me from how he handled interviews in the past, at least the interviews I was in on. Perhaps he had other pressing business. Perhaps he said what he wanted.

The conclusion was a succinct interview, fairly easy to edit for tonight's episode of Arizona Week. Watch it at 8:30 MST on KUAT-TV Channel 6 in Tucson and at 10:30 MST on KAET-TV Channel 8 in Phoenix. It also will be on our Website, azweek.com, by 8:30 MST, and the unedited interview with Tom Horne will be there, also.

One interesting aside from the short time with Horne. As he was settling in and last-second camera checks were under way, he volunteered that his Spanish had gotten so good from lessons he was taking that he now conducts his interviews with Spanish-language media in Spanish.

Tom-Horne,

HORNE: 'SOME AREAS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULDN'T GO'

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said in an interview for Arizona Week that he will help lead the way for Arizona asserting its state's rights against an intrusive federal government but that there are some ideas in the Legislature he could not support as constitutional.

"I do think there are legitimate 10th Amendment issues ... , Horne said. "I am challenging some federal actions on the basis of the 10th Amendment in court cases. But I also believe that once the courts rule, we should obey those rules."

The 10th Amendment is known as the states' rights amendment, giving the states and the people all rights not specifically reserved for the federal government.

Horne's comments come against the backdrop of a Republican-controlled Arizona Senate in which up to a dozen bills have been introduced that challenge federal authority, including bills that would allow the state to seize federal land through eminent domain and to arrest federal officers who are in the state enforcing federal laws the state has disagreed with.

The Republican, who took office last month, said he will defend the state in any case that's a challenge to federal authority as long as he thinks the state's side is constitutional. When he thinks it is not, he said, he will hire outside counsel to represent the state.

Ultimately, the federal courts will decide up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court, and he would respect those decisions as being the law of the land.

"Whatever office we hold, federal or state, we swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution," Horne said.

Watch Arizona Week Friday at 6:30 p.m. on KUAT-TV 6 in Tucson and at 10:30 p.m. on KAET-TV 8 in Phoenix for the full story, analysis and commentary.


THE IMMOVEABLE OBJECT; THE IRRESISTABLE FORCE

The "supremacy clause" of the U.S. Constitution:

Article VI, Clause 2 This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The "states' rights" amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

10th Amendment The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

On Friday's Arizona Week, we will discuss the two in relation to one another and to the bigger picture of what is happening in the Arizona Legislature and the political realm at the State Capitol.


A LINEUP OF LEGAL BEAGLES FOR FRIDAY'S *AZ WEEK*

The state of Arizona and the federal government already have clashed over a number of issues in which each side says it has the right constitutionally to govern a given area.

Such issues range from stripping businesses of their licenses for employing illegal immigrants and tax credits for religious schools to public funding for election campaigns and immigration law enforcement. The business license, religious schools and public funding cases all are on the U.S. Supreme Court docket.

And more cases likely are coming. The Arizona Legislature is considering bills that will push more enforcement of immigration, challenge the federal government on its oversight of commerce and health care and impose a kind of omnibus legislation that would allow the state by fiat to reject any federal laws it feels are unconstitutional.

Republican Attorney General Tom Horne has been on the edge of such issues, helping push the state along a path of challenge to federal authority. "I think that's an unfortunate decision," Horne was quoted Feb. 2 by the Arizona Daily Star as saying regarding a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling giving the Environmental Protection Agency the power to regulate greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.

Arizona Week will interview Horne for Friday's program to get his viewpoint.

Also scheduled for the program is University of Arizona law Professor Ana Maria Merico, who teaches a course in federalism and has done extensive research on the topic of the legal and constitutional relationship between the states and the federal government.

Additionally, Patrick Cunningham, a third-year law student at Arizona State University, will discuss an article he wrote for the Arizona State Law Journal about the business license revocation case as an example of the clash over federalism.


THE NEW FEDERALISM AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR ARIZONANS

Two U.S. Supreme Court cases with implications for Arizonans are pending decisions, and at least one more -- possibly two or three more -- cases are headed to the highest court in the land.

All are examples of Arizona's pushback of what Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, GOP Attorney General Tom Horne and Republican legislative leaders say are illegal and unwarranted federal intrusions, or shortcomings by the federal government in providing Arizona the protections that the Constitution calls for.

Now before the court are:

  • A challenge to the state's school tax credit system, specifically its allowance for contributions under the credit going to religious-only schools, saying that is a violation of the First Amendment principle of separation of church and state. Supreme Court arguments were heard in November 2010.

  • A challenge to the state's Clean Elections system, which gives to candidates who apply and qualify for it public funding in an amount equal to what their opponents raise privately. It also is a First Amendment case, citing the Clean Elections law as a violation of free speech. Supreme Court arguments are expected this spring.

While those are First Amendment cases, the basis for much of the legal and political activity in Arizona is aimed at interpretations of the U.S. Constitution's "supremacy clause" vs. the 10th Amendment.

The "supremacy clause is Article VI, Clause 2, which says that the Constitution and the laws of the United States "shall be the supreme law of the land." The 10th Amendment says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

One case likely to go to the Supreme Court is over Arizona's SB1070, the strict immigration control law, passed last year amid talk by state Republican leaders of their frustrations over the federal government failing to protect the state from what some called an "invasion" of illegal immigrants across the Arizona-Mexico border.

This legislation session has seen introduction of bills calling for the state to be able to nullify any federal law that legislators think intrudes on the state's sovereignty and one bill that would make it a minor felony for a federal officer to undertake enforcement of any such law.

Additionally, a legislator and Attorney General Tom Horne have said they reject a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2007 that upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

For Friday, Arizona Week is assembling a list of guests who can speak to the issue from both its political and legal viewpoints, along with a panel of journalists to provide commentary on the issues.

About AZ Week Notebook

News and commentary from Arizona Week producer/host Michael Chihak and interns Melanie Huonker and Lucy Valencia.