As more governors declare their opposition to the Stimulus Bill — which is now estimated to include more than $1 trillion in unfunded mandates for the states above and beyond the initial $800 billion cost — more and more state legislators across the nation have been introducing bills to assert state sovereignty under the 10th Amendment in an effort to assert the rights of their citizens and the authority of state governments against unwarranted interference by the federal government.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and Idaho Governor Butch Otter stated their support for the position against the stimulus taken by Texas Governor Rick Perry and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford this week. Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska has been speaking publicly against the bill and when it passed her office issued a statement praising Alaska’s congressional delegation for voting against it:
“Congressman Young and Senator Murkowski did their best to achieve the right balance in the bill, but in the end the majority allowed the spending to balloon and encompass support for programs that don’t respond to the problem at hand.”
Meanwhile, Governor Palin made the bizarrely optimistic suggestion that President Obama should Veto the bill to five lawmakers a chance to at least read the bill and specifically citing the problem for the states in the huge amount of unfunded mandates in the bill.
The push for state sovereignty laws has really gone nationwide. Texas has gotten on board with a bill submitted this week with six sponsors. It is basically the same as the Oklahoma resolution rather than the more radical New Hampshire resolution, which gives it a better chance of passage. Texas is a big state, and having it in the fight adds a lot of serious weight.
Although it is not yet confirmed on their legislature’s website, the story is circulating that Tennessee is the first state to pass a sovereignty resolution through both of its legislative houses, in only 2 days from its introduction on Wednesday. Their version is a non-binding resolution which doesn’t require the governor’s signature or have the force of law, but it is a significant statement nonetheless.
In Pennsylvania, State Representative Sam Rohrer is leading the charge, and has made a very impassioned video statement which lays out exactly what the problem is and urges other states to join him in reasserting their sovereignty and rejecting federal mandates, stressing the very real concern that the spendthrift federal government will take the fiscally responsible states down with them.
There’s also news from Oklahoma, where a quick phonecall to State Representative Charles Key confirms that the sovereignty resolution which he got through the house last year was approved unanimously by the rules committee and on Wednesday was passed by the Oklahoma House by a 83-13 majority and may be voted on by the state Senate as early as next week, with high hopes of passage.
Missouri, as always, is marching to its own radically conservative drummer, with a state sovereignty bill up for consideration which is unique in that it specifically takes exception to the pro-abortion proposed federal Freedom of Choice law. This is conceptually similar to the bills being considered in Indiana, Wyoming and Oregon which reassert state sovereignty with a special emphasis on gun owners rights in response to a bill currently being considered in the House of Representatives to require licensing of all firearms nationwide.
Because of these articles a lot of concerned citizens are contacting me from various different states about what their states are doing. Sources in Maine inform me that they have also had a sovereignty bill proposed, but because of the structure of their legislative session it likely won’t even be looked at for months. A sovereignty bill was introduced in Minnesota on Thursday as HF997. Arkansas joined in with a bill in its state House of Representatives on Friday morning as well.
Some states have yet to get state legislators on board and are trying alternative methods. In Florida there is a pettition which will be submitted to the state legislature, which may not sit terribly well will stimulus-embracing Governor Charlie Crist. In Massachusets under a provision of their state constitution any citizen can request that a legislator submit a bill on their behalf. Ron Bokleman is struggling to get his bill, which is a version of the New Hampshire bill, past bureaucratic red tape so that it will actually be considered by the legislature. One correspondent also pointed out that a number of states passed or at least considered sovereignty bills in the past, starting with the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions authored by Madison and Jefferson back in 1799, but with some much more recent, like Utah’s 1995 bill which passed their House, a reminder that concern over unfunded mandates isn’t new, though it’s growing ever more critical.
It now looks as if at least half the states will have some sort of sovereignty bill up for consideration this year. Combine that with governors and legislators who are worried about how they’ll ever be able to pay for the massive unfunded mandates included in the so-called stimulus bill, and you have a volatile rift developing between the relatively fiscally responsible and citizen-friendly state governments and the incredibly fiscally irresponsible and increasingly autocratic government in Washington, DC. If we stand together and make our voices heard, we can stop further federal stimulus and bailout spending. If we can reassert control by 2010 we can stop at least two thirds of the current stimulus money from ever being spent. It’s time to storm the gates of power and let our elected leaders know that we do not want to see our country bankrupted and driven into socialism out of desperation and expediency.