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Federalism: Case for Reinvigorating State's Rights
There is an ongoing battle over the proper size and role of the federal government, especially as it relates to conflicts with state governments over legislative authority. Conservatives believe that state and local governments should be empowered to handle local issues such as healthcare, education, immigration, and many other social and economic laws.
Original Constitutional Roles
There is little question that the current role of the federal government far exceeds anything ever imagined by the founders and has clearly taken over many roles originally designated to individual states.
The founding fathers, through the U.S. Constitution, sought to limit the possibility of a strong centralized government and in fact gave the federal government a very limited list of responsibilities. Simplified, the founders thought that the federal government should handle issues that it would be difficult or unreasonable for states to handle such as the maintenance of military and defense operations, negotiating with foreign countries, creating currency, and regulating commerce with foreign countries. Ideally, individual states would then handle all most matters that they reasonably could. The founders even went further in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights to prevent the federal government from grabbing too much power.
Benefits of Stronger State Governments
One of the clear benefits of a weaker federal government and stronger state governments is that the needs of each individual state are more easily managed. Alaska, Iowa, Rhode Island, and Florida are all very different states with very different needs, populations, and values.
A law that may make sense in New York might make little sense in Alabama. For example: Some states have determined it is necessary to prohibit the use of fireworks due to an environment that is highly susceptible to wild fires. Other states have no such problems and have laws that allow fireworks. It would not be valuable for the federal government to make one standardized law for all states prohibiting fireworks when only a handful of states need such a law in place. State control also empowers states to make tough decisions for their own well-being rather than hope that the federal government will see the states’ problem as a priority.
A strong state government also empowers citizens in two ways. First, state governments are far more responsive to the needs of the residents of their state. If important issues are not addressed, then voters can hold elections and vote in people they feel are better suited to handle the problems. However, if an issue is only important to one state and the federal government has authority over that issue, then they have little influence to get the change they seek as they are but a small part of a larger electorate. Second, empowered state governments also allow individuals to choose the state that best fit their own personal values. Families and individuals are able to choose states that either have no or low income taxes, or states with higher ones. They can opt for states with weak or strong guns laws, with restrictions on marriage or without them, and so on. Some people may prefer to live in a state that offers a wide range of government programs and services, others may not. But just as the free market allows individuals to pick and choose products or services they like, so to can they choose a state that best fits their lifestyle. An over-reaching federal government limits this option.
Continue reading full article at http://usconservatives.about.com/od/conservativepolitics101/a/The-C...
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State and local GMO bans declared legal in Pacific Northwest
Thursday, December 08, 2016 by: JD Heyes
(NaturalNews) Bans on genetically modified crops imposed by state and local governments in the Pacific Northwest are perfectly legal, meaning that there is nothing the federal government or Big Food and Monsanto can do about it, a federal appeals court has ruled.
As reported by The Daily Astorian, federal statutes do not preempt or otherwise prevent local governments from banning GMO crops that have already been deregulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
A panel of judges decided to overturn an earlier ruling which held that Maui County in Hawaii was not permitted to ban commercialized GMO crops in 2014, because the local ordinance was preempted by federal rules governing biotechnology.
The panel ruled that there is no conflict between local regulations and federal rules and laws because, in this case, the USDA lacks jurisdiction over biotech/GMO crops once they’ve been deregulated, the paper said in online editions.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016 – Austin
Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a reply in support of a petition for a writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to take up Texas’ voter ID law and correct the Fifth Circuit’s misguided ruling that the law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The reply explains that the plaintiffs in the case got unprecedented access to internal legislative materials, yet still could not produce any evidence of intentional discrimination in the voter ID law.
“The success of American democracy hinges on whether or not voters trust the integrity of the election process,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Voter ID laws both prevent fraud as well as ensure that election results accurately reflect the will of Texas voters. The Legislature enacted common sense reforms, which should be respected by this nation’s courts.”
The Texas Legislature enacted the voter ID law in 2011 through Senate Bill 14 (SB 14), requiring voters to present government-issued photo ID when voting at the polls.
To view the reply, click here: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/16-393_rb.pdf
Indiana Town’s Entire Police Force Resigns
14 Dec 2016
Officers are blaming the Bunker Hill Town Council for “serving their own agenda” before considering the needs of the town’s officers, WXIN reports. “We have had issues with the town board and there are some activities there where I felt like they were serving their own agenda,” said former Bunker Hill Town Marshal Michael Thomison.
Read more at Breitbart http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/12/14/indiana-towns-en...
Posted on December 14, 2016 by Michael Maharrey
Missouri Bill Would Allow People to Opt Out of Smart Meters; Undermine Federal Program
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Dec. 14, 2016) – A bill prefiled in the Missouri legislature for the 2017 session would ensure customers can opt out of installing “smart meter” technology on their homes and businesses. Passage of the bill would allow Missourians to protect their own privacy, and it would take a step toward blocking a federal program in effect.
Rep. Tim Remole (R- Excello) prefiled House Bill 196 (HB196) on Dec. 12. The legislation would require utilities regulated by the Public Service Commission to allow customers to choose between smart meters and traditional meters, and would prohibit utilities from disincentivizing traditional meter usage.
Thu Dec 15, 2016 | 5:08pm EST
North Carolina Republicans try to strip powers from incoming Democratic governor
North Carolina's Republican-dominated legislature is moving to strip powers from the state's incoming governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, three weeks before he is to succeed a Republican in the executive mansion.
Lawmakers on Thursday began debating a bill to require Senate confirmation for cabinet appointments, reduce by 1,200 the number of state employees the governor can hire and fire at will, and eliminate the governor's power to pick University of North Carolina trustees.
The legislation and related bills came as a surprise, filed late on Wednesday on the heels of a special "lame duck" session of the General Assembly called to consider relief for Hurricane Matthew victims.
Cooper, to be sworn in on Jan. 7 after defeating incumbent Republican Pat McCrory by 10,000 votes last month, said the proposals are aimed at holding him back.
"Most people might think that this is a partisan power grab, but it is really more ominous," Cooper said at a news conference in Raleigh on Thursday. "This is about thwarting the governor's ability to move us forward on education and healthcare and clean air and water." Read more at Reuters http://www.reuters.com/article/us-north-carolina-politics-idUSKBN14...
37 gun safety bills filed for Texas Legislative Session
Gov. Abbott wants to reduce, eliminate ‘Robin Hood’ for Texas schools
By Phil Prazan Published: December 14, 2016, 12:13 pm Updated: December 14, 2016, 8:26 pm
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott is taking aim at Austin Independent School District’s chief complaint about the way Texas pays for schools.
The capital city sends millions of local property tax dollars to the state of Texas so they can fund other–property poor–school districts. It’s known as “Robin Hood” or “recapture” and has been the arch nemesis of property rich districts like Austin who can’t spend that money on their own students. Read more at http://kxan.com/2016/12/14/gov-abbott-wants-to-reduce-eliminate-rob...
North Carolina: surprise special session called bill restructure appeals challenges states laws create unique en banc review system make appellate races partisan
I mentioned that there was speculation that the special session called by NC’s governor to deal with Hurricane Matthew relief might turn into an opportunity to expand the state’s supreme court from 7 to 9 members, giving the outgoing Republican governor the chance to name the 2 new seats.
That plan never materialized, however immediately at the close of the Hurricane Matthew special session, another called by the legislature’s GOP majority itself was started and this one included an omnibus bill that would restricted the state’s judiciary.
First, SB 4 as introduced in the 2016 Fourth Extra Session crams together numerous different items regarding a new Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to take over from the existing Board of Elections, and other similar moves.
Court-specifically, the bill repeats an effort made over the last several years to reintroduce partisan races for the state’s appellate courts. As it stands the Supreme Court races are nonpartisan and in Court of Appeals races candidates may, but are not required, to put party labels next to their names.
Second, on the appellate front, challenges to state laws currently go to the state’s trial courts and then from there to the Supreme Court, hopping over the Court of Appeals.
Appeal lies of right directly to the Supreme Court from any order or judgment of a court, either final or interlocutory, that holds that an act of the General Assembly is facially invalid on the basis that the act violates the North Carolina Constitution or federal law.
Under SB 4 the appeals would now lie directly to the Court of Appeals. Currently the 15-member court sits in panels of 3 and does not have an en banc procedure. SB 4 would create such an en banc practice and effectively require en banc review if any judge dissented from the original 3-judge panel.
An appeal of right [to the Supreme Court] pursuant to this subdivision is not effective until after the Court of Appeals sitting en banc has rendered a decision in the case, if the Court of Appeals hears the case en banc, or until after the time for filing a motion for rehearing of the cause by the Court of Appeals has expired or the Court of Appeals has denied the motion for rehearing.
SB 4 has already cleared the Senate Redistricting Committee and is now in Senate Finance. UPDATE: Appears to have cleared Senate Finance, now heading to Senate floor.
Connecticut’s top court to rule on permissibility of cell tower evidence
Louisiana Judge Rejects LGBT Protections Ordered by Governor
Friday, December 16, 2016
By Erik De La Garza, Courthouse News Service
BATON ROUGE, La. (CN) – A Louisiana judge on Wednesday blocked an executive order offering protections to LGBT employees in state government as unconstitutional and an overreach of the governor’s authority.
State District Judge Todd Hernandez ruled that Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards acted outside the scope of his authority when he created the anti-discrimination law with an executive order.
The order, issued last April, prohibited discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity in government and state contracts.
The ruling was a win for Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry, who challenged the anti-discrimination order. Landry has reportedly blocked dozens of state contracts that contained an LGBT provision from moving forward.
“I applaud Judge Hernandez for basing his ruling on the law, not politics,” Landry said in a statement. “My challenge has always been about upholding the checks and balances on executive authority as established in our State Constitution.”
Gov. Edwards said he plans to appeal Judge Hernandez’s decision.
“We continue to believe that discrimination is not a Louisiana value and that we are best served as a state when employment decisions are based solely on an individual’s qualifications and job performance,” the governor said in a statement.
In October, a judge found that the governor did not have the right to sue the attorney general to force the approval of legal contracts that contained an LGBT provision.
Edwards said his executive order contained an exception for contractors that are religious organizations, and is a statement that Louisiana doesn’t discriminate.
Landry argued that it sought to establish a new protected class of people that isn’t recognized under the law, and which legislators refused to add. http://www.allgov.com/news/controversies/louisiana-judge-rejects-lg...
Friday, 16 December, 2016
20 states file suit against Mylan for price-fixing conspiracy
by Ram Eachambadi at 4:32 PM ET
Attorneys general from 20 states filed an antitrust suit [complaint, PDF] on Thursday alleging price fixing conspiracy against drug giant Mylan NV [corporate website] and five other drugmakers. The complaint alleges that the anti-competitive practices of Mylan and the other companies led to artificially high prices for two generic drugs—doxycycline …
key point made at 7:15-7:50.
... and I can't remember the other party ever taking the fight to the battleground of 'states rights' in any significant way. Just as the past few years, total concession instead of fighting the good fight.