The PJ Tatler

Let the Rollbacks Begin

Now that most of the states — remember them? — have GOP majorities, legislators are looking to re-assert their rights under the Tenth Amendment — remember that? — and to nullify intrusive and unconstitutional federal regulation:

State legislators around the country have introduced more than 200 bills aiming to nullify regulations and laws coming out of Washington, D.C., as they look to rein in the federal government. The legislative onslaught, which includes bills targeting federal restrictions on firearms, experimental treatments and hemp, reflects growing discord between the states and Washington, state officials say.

“You have a choice,” said Kentucky state Rep. Diane St. Onge (R). “To sit back and not do anything or say anything and let overregulation continue — or you have the alternative choice to speak up about it and say, ‘We know what you are doing or intend to do and we do not think that it is constitutional and we as a state are not going to stand for it.’ ”

Last month, St. Onge introduced H.B. 13 to nullify federal gun control laws within Kentucky state lines. Similar legislation has been introduced in seven other states. “This law is saying the sheriff and those under him do not have to follow federal regulations,” she said.

Yeah, you’re flinching a little. But read the Constitution — the federal government is a creation of the compact of the states; except on fundamental constitutional issues, it’s not the boss of them.

Friction between the states and the federal government dates back to the nation’s earliest days. But there has been an explosion of bills in the last year, according to the Los Angeles-based Tenth Amendment Center, which advocates for the state use of nullification to tamp down on overzealous regulation.

“People are becoming more and more concerned about the overreach of the federal government,” said center spokesman Mike Maharrey. “They feel the federal government is trying to do too much, it’s too big and it’s getting more and more in debt.”

The 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights reserves to the states powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution. States have long used it as a tool to protect themselves against regulations. Though federal law trumps state law, Maharrey said states are learning to exercise their own power by pushing back.

As I’ve often said, we’ll know the states are serious about rollbacks when we see the wrecker’s balls smashing in the departments of Energy, Education and Commerce, and dismantling the EPA and OSHA, among other excrescences.