Over the years I’ve had the honor and privilege of serving in many public positions — mayor of the city of Pooler, chairman of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Planning Commission, and now as a state representative.
While I’ve learned many important lessons during this time, one of the most important that I’ve learned is the meaning of NIMBY— Not in My Back Yard.
Want to build a mental health care facility to serve those in need in the community?
Go right ahead, but NIMBY.
How about building a halfway house in the community to help transition troubled teens back into society? Fine, as long as it’s NIMBY.
Recently, a group of state senators in Georgia announced that they would introduce a resolution during the next legislative session that would amend the state’s constitution to stop Washington from enforcing health care reform here.
By invoking the 10th Amendment rights to the U.S. Constitution through this proposed state constitutional amendment, Georgians could stop the health care reform currently being debated in Washington.
The 10th Amendment says that any power not explicitly granted the federal government in the Constitution is preserved for the states. The health care reform bill currently being debated in Congress would be in violation of this, the senators say. By passing this resolution and amending Georgia’s state constitution, Georgians would not have to participate in any federal reform.
The group of state senators contends that the President and Congress want to force Americans, including Georgians, into government-run health care, further deteriorating personal freedoms and increasing government mandates. The proposed state amendment would protect against this by establishing that no law could force an employer or health care provider to participate in any health care system and that employers could pay directly for lawful health care services without penalties or fines.
The battle over states rights vs. the federal government is nothing new in our country. In fact, the 10th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution for that very reason — to clarify the rights of states and the federal government.
This is also not the first time Georgia has expressed concern over 10th Amendment rights. During the last legislative session, the state Senate passed SR 632, a resolution that affirms the state’s belief in the 10th Amendment rights based on principles cited by Thomas Jefferson in a resolution written for the Kentucky legislature in 1798.
And Georgia is not the only state to stand up for their rights. In fact, the governor of Texas has earned the nickname Gov. Rick “Secessionist” Perry over his strong sentiments of state rights and hints of possible secession from the union.
Arizona, reacting more specifically to the healthcare issue, has proposed The Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act which would amend the state constitution to assure their citizens have the freedom of medical choice.
Proponents of health care reform point to Medicare, government-run health care for seniors, as an example of a federal program that has been in place in states for many years yet has not been challenged by 10th Amendment concerns.
Other proponents of healthcare reform are quick to point out that states require everyone who drives to have auto insurance, so why not require the same of health insurance?
Regardless, almost everyone agrees that healthcare reform is needed in our nation — but at what price?
For some, the perceived loss of personal freedom of choice is too much. For others, it’s a matter of state’s rights vs. the federal government.
In the case of these state senators from Georgia the message is clear — NIMBY — Not in My Back Yard.
Rep. Buddy Carter can be reached at Coverdell Legislative Office Building (CLOB) Room 508, Atlanta, GA, 30334. His Capitol office number is (404) 656-0213.