NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline) - The Tennessee Legislature is considering a measure that would allow the Governor's Office to hire private attorneys to represent the state without the attorney general's permission.

Nearly half of the 50 states have joined in a challenge to federal health care reform, but Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper doesn't want his state to be one of them. The legislation would allow Gov. Phil Bredesen to hire attorneys to represent the state in the challenge.

It was proposed by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. Currently, the governor and attorney general must agree to hire outside counsel, a report in The Chattanoogan says.

This week, Alaska became the 20th state to join the challenge, filed in Florida federal court by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. The private attorneys working the suit will make a maximum of $50,000, and the participating states will split the cost.

The Tennessee Senate State and Local Committee unanimously approved the measure, the report adds.

Tennessee would be the 22nd state to challenge the legislation signed by President Barack Obama in March. Virginia has its own challenge in Virginia federal court.

The challenging states say it is unfair to require citizens to purchase health insurance or face an annual financial penalty of $695.

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