Texas bill would reward companies for balking at Obamacare
A Texas lawmaker has introduced legislation that would provide state-level tax breaks to companies that flout a provision in President Obama's health care law that requires employers to cover contraception.
Republican State Rep. Jonathan Stickland's bill is designed to protect companies that view the contraception mandate as an attack on their religious beliefs. Many of them say forms of contraception, particularly "morning-after" pills, amount to abortion-inducing drugs.
Numerous religious nonprofits and corporations have sued over the mandate. So far, federal courts have provided temporary relief from the mandate's penalties to nine out of 14 corporations, although the merits of their claims may be headed to the Supreme Court.
Oklahoma-based company Hobby Lobby became the public face of the dispute, after the arts-and-crafts behemoth found a way to delay its insurance year and avoid up to $1.3 million in fines per day when the mandate kicked in at the start of the year.
Mr. Stickland's legislation, House Bill 649, encourages companies that balk at "Obamacare" by exempting them from "all taxes levied by the state if they are forced to pay punitive fines related to the Obamacare contraception mandate," according to a press release from his office.
"It is simply appalling that any business owner should have to choose between violating their religious convictions and watching their business be strangled by the strong arm of Federal mandates and taxation," the lawmaker said. "I intend to do everything I can to help save Hobby Lobby and protect them from our out-of-control federal government."