Texas State Rep. Jonathan Strickland is prepared to punish Texas for businesses that feel providing contraceptives to their employees violates the business owner’s religious beliefs. This arose because of enforcement mechanisms in the new federal health care law would impose fines on businesses that do not comply with Obamacare’s standards.
HB 649 would authorize tax refunds and credits to businesses “that refuse to comply with certain federal health care coverage requirements based solely on the religious convictions of the owners of the businesses.” Those religious convictions would only apply to business owners who refuse to comply with the contraceptive requirements of Obamacare.
Strickland’s bill states that a “qualified business is entitled to a refund of or credit against state sales and…any other tax paid by the business to the state.”
This could result in a sizable chunk of money, especially if the business continues to flaunt the federal law. After the fines are accessed and paid, the business could apply for compensation from the state. In effect, this means Texas taxpayers will subsidize businesses that break federal law.
The loser in this scenario isn’t the federal government, which gets money from fines or the business that is reimbursed for its expenses, but the state of Texas, which will be out millions in tax dollars. Of course, there are the employees too. They still don’t get contraception in their health insurance.
Theoretically, the winner could be the business. They should be able to get health insurance a bit cheaper because it won’t include contraceptive products or services. On the other side, a business that fully complies with the law has to pay a bit more for the more comprehensive health insurance.
The irony is that conservatives like Strickland usually voice against government meddling into business affairs, except when it suits their own self-interests.