First up for this new legislative session in the Missouri House: federal health care.

The House has approved a resolution calling on Missouri to join in the litigation against the law approved by Congress in 2009. The final tally was 115 in favor with 46 against. HR 39, sponsored by Rep. Ward Franz, a Republican from West Plains, urges the Attorney General to join with 20 states in a lawsuit attempting to overturn the law, to support the lawsuit against the Obama Administration filed by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder and to defend Proposition C. Voters approved Prop C in August, giving it more the 70% of the vote. The ballot initiative prohibits Missourians from being forced to buy health insurance coverage.

The debate as well as the vote broke mostly along party lines. Republicans in the Missouri House have been relentless in approving messages opposing the federal health care legislation. Some Democrats voted for the measure, but most opposed it, questioning the need to join the lawsuit and the wisdom of spending money during difficult budget times in state government. Republicans defended the action, saying that any money spent in successfully overturning the law would be more than recouped by throwing off mandates that they claim will cost Missouri hundreds of millions of dollars.

AUDIO: Rep. Ward Franz (R-West Plains) opens debate on HR 39 [4 min MP3]

AUDIO: Rep. Joe Aull (D-Marshall) questions sponsor Franz about HR 39 [4 min MP3]