BISMARCK â€“ Conservative North Dakota lawmakers want the state to do more to fight the federal health care law.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has already joined a federal lawsuit filed by 25 other state attorneys general challenging the constitutionality of the law.
North Dakota Republican legislators have also filed several pieces of legislation this session to show their opposition to the law. Legislators had a news conference on Thursday to discuss some of their efforts.
Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, thinks the Legislature needs to do all it can to support the rights of North Dakotans to choose whether they purchase health insurance.
One of the most controversial aspects of the federal law is the mandate for people to have health insurance or face a financial penalty.
Kasper is the prime sponsor of House Concurrent Resolution 3014, which would amend the state constitution to prohibit any law from compelling anyone to purchase health insurance or participate in any health care system.
If the resolution is approved by the Legislature, the matter would go to a public vote on the 2012 primary ballot.
Rep. Craig Headland, R-Montpelier, also supports putting the matter to a vote.
â€œI believe that itâ€™s time to give the citizens of North Dakota an opportunity to weigh in on what many of us believe to be an overreaching federal government,â€ he said.
Rep. Phil Mueller, D-Valley City, was not at the news conference but later said he doesnâ€™t support the proposal.
â€œThis is just political posturing, in my opinion,â€ Mueller said.
He said he respects the rights of voters, but the federal law is comprehensive and to expect North Dakota voters to be experts on it would be unfair to them.
While there are judges who have ruled against the lawâ€™s constitutionality, there are also those who say it is within the realm of the federal government, Mueller said.
The North Dakota resolution would change the state constitution, but there are also bills that would address the health care issue in state law. The House passed House Bill 1165, which would put wording into North Dakota law that health insurance coverage is not required. The bill passed on a 69-25 vote and is now before the Senate.
On Thursday, conservative lawmakers also expressed their wish to bring back House Bill 1291, which would enter the state into an interstate health care freedom compact.
The House voted 56-36 to defeat the bill, with bipartisan support against it. The House refused to reconsider the bill the day after the vote.
Kasper said he wants to bring back the compact concept in another bill this session. Joining with other states would allow for strength in numbers to take on the federal government, he said.
Rep. Stacey Dahl, R-Grand Forks, was among those who voted against the compact bill. She said it goes too far and isnâ€™t necessary.
â€œWe already have a legal challenge by the state of North Dakota against the federal health care act,â€ she said. â€œI think that we need to allow that adjudication to proceed and play out.â€
A federal judge who declared President Barack Obamaâ€™s health care overhaul unconstitutional ruled Thursday that states must continue implementing it while the case makes its way through the courts.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson was responding to a request from Obama administration attorneys who sought to ensure states follow the law until their challenge to it is resolved.
Three other federal judges have upheld the law and a fourth in Virginia has ruled against it, but that ruling is also on hold until appeals are heard.
The issue is widely expected to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.