By Molly Ramsdell
Our American federalism creatively unites states with unique cultural, political, and social diversity into a strong nation. The 10th Amendment is the cornerstone of constitutional federalism and reserves broad powers to the states and to the people. Federalism protects liberty, enhances accountability and fosters innovation with less risk to the nation. NCSL strongly urges federal lawmakers to maintain a federalism that respects diversity without causing division and that fosters unity without enshrining uniformity. (NCSL Policy Directive on Federalism)
A group of chairs and vice chairs of state legislative Intergovernmental Relations Committees, led by NCSL's president, South Dakota Senator Deb Peters (R), sat down with Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and other members of the Speaker’s Task Force on Intergovernmental Affairs to discuss ways to restore the balance of power between the states and federal government.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan task force back in May. NCSL was named a member of an advisory council to the task force.
As the task force is still in the early stages of its work, NCSL took the opportunity to make several recommendations, including that the House consider:
- Requesting a federalism study be conducted by the Governmental Accountability Office.
- Requiring all House Committees hold hearings on federalism and invite state legislators to testify.
- Providing federalism training to new congressional staff.
At the same time, NCSL will explore:
- Developing a federalism curriculum for state legislators.
- Assisting states in strengthening the role of their intergovernmental committee and coordination between the states’ committees.
- Compiling data on several areas of concern: maintenance of effort requirements, preemption, unfunded mandates and abuse of the commerce clause.
This meeting was the first step at establishing a forum within NCSL for the chairs and members of the state intergovernmental affairs committees. Please contact Molly Ramsdell or Neal Osten firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Molly Ramsdell is director of NCSL's Washington, D.C., office.