The months-long health-care debate in Washington came to an abrupt close this week when the president signed into law a bill that is an unprecedented intrusion upon individual liberty and the rights of the states.

The months-long health-care debate in Washington came to an abrupt close this week when the president signed into law a bill that is an unprecedented intrusion upon individual liberty and the rights of the states.

This ill-advised attempt at reforming health care will produce news layers of bureaucracy. Despite claims of deficit reduction, this nearly trillion-dollar bill will also bring higher taxes, higher health-care costs, and even more financial hardship for the states – including Missouri.

What is perhaps most disturbing is the complete departure from the free-market principles that are a fundamental part of this country’s heritage. Never before have we seen the federal government so brazenly inject itself into the lives of Americans by placing costly, intrusive mandates on individuals, businesses and the states.

In response to this power grab by Washington, states across the country are rallying to pass legislation and challenge this overreaching bill in court. Just this week, the Missouri Senate resumed debate on a proposed constitutional amendment known as the “Health Care Freedom Act.”

The voters would be asked to amend the Missouri Constitution to prohibit any federal law from forcing a patient, employer or health-care provider to participate in any government or privately run health care system. Also this week, Missouri Lt. Gov. Kinder announced that he will seek to join a lawsuit already filed by 13 other states to try to ward off enforcement of this mandate.

While the federal government continues to spend like a drunken sailor, the Show-Me State is working diligently to maintain our commitment to fiscal responsibility. Since – by law – we must balance our state budget, we are making drastic cuts and seriously looking at restructuring and streamlining government. This week we dedicated a work day to reviewing hundreds of citizen-submitted ideas on how to save money.

At the end of the day we were able to present several great recommendations to the Senate. These include reducing the number of non-violent offenders in the prison system – where they are likely to come back to their communities more hardened than when they left – and instead utilizing the drug court program, which has seen great success.

These offenders must learn to hold down a job, pay taxes and become productive members of the community. Merely warehousing them in state custody to the tune of thousands of dollars per year is a financial hardship to the state.

This is one of the many bold yet common-sense ideas we discussed this week. I’m proud that our state is running in the opposite direction of the federal government’s example and blazing its own trail of true reform.