States push back against federal power
By Henry Lamb
Texas State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst has introduced a bill that could have massive implications for every state government as well as the federal government. Her bill (HB 1129) directs the State Attorney General to conduct an investigation, and report to the legislature before the end of 2012, how international treaties and agreements might affect Texas law.
Of particular concern are "soft law" documents and agreements that the federal government may embrace, but which require no Senate confirmation. Agenda 21 is one of those U.N. "soft law" documents, signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992. This 40-chapter document prescribes rules and regulations that set forth how government should control land use as a primary way to force integration of economic development with social equity and environmental protection. This document has never been debated nor approved by Congress, but its policies have been foisted upon state and local governments through the agencies of the federal government.
The Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) signed by George W. Bush, along with the Mexico's Vicente Fox, and Canada's Paul Martin in 2005 is another "international agreement" that attempts to "harmonize" rules and regulations of the three nations. Congress has never debated nor approved this agreement. Nevertheless, implementation of the "harmonization" process could affect the laws in every state.
Other agreements of concern include:
The state of Texas wants to know exactly how these agreements and documents might affect the sovereignty of the state of Texas. Every other state should ask the same question.
South Carolina's Rep. William E. Sandifer III has introduced a bill to challenge the federal government's authority to dictate the type of light bulb South Carolina citizens must purchase. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires that all incandescent bulbs be banned by January 1, 2012. South Carolina believes that the federal government has no authority to regulate intrastate commerce and light bulbs manufactured, sold, and consumed in South Carolina are none of the federal government's business. Rep. Sandifer told The Washington Times: "I think the feds have overstepped our 10th Amendment constitutional rights as they've so often done under the Commerce Clause."
South Carolina wants to know how abuses of the commerce clause affect the sovereignty of the state of South Carolina. Every other state should ask the same question.
Utah is going a step further. State Senator Howard Stephenson has introduced a bill titled Legislative Counsel Relating to United States Senators. Rep. Ken Ivory introduced a companion bill in the House (HB 257).
"This bill addresses issues related to the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and permits the Legislature to provide counsel to United States senators representing Utah and to receive certain reports from them."
This bill "allows" the legislature to provide counsel to U.S. Senators elected in Utah, and "allows" Senators to make reports to the legislature when requested to do so.
Utah is the only state that flatly refused to ratify the 17th Amendment, which removed the election of Senators from state legislatures and allowed Senators to be elected by popular vote. The 17th Amendment stripped state governments from any representation in the federal government.
Since the states lost their seat at the federal law-making table, the federal government has ignored the 10th Amendment altogether, and expanded the commerce clause, even to the point of requiring every American to purchase a health care insurance product designated by the federal government. It is clear that the Founders never intended for this nation to be governed by a single national sovereign government. The original design was a Federal Republic – a unique sovereignty-sharing arrangement, guaranteed by a ratified Constitution. The 17th Amendment destroyed this original design.
A new and growing coalition, Repeal 17 now, is working to restore the original design by repealing the 17th Amendment. As more and more states run afoul of the federal government, they are looking for ways to curtail the power of the federal government and expand their own sovereignty as the Founders thought they had protected.
Were Senators still elected by and accountable to state legislatures, it is highly unlikely that Texas, or any other state, would have to worry about the affect of international treaties and agreements. The states would have a voice in the federal government which could not be ignored. South Carolina would not likely be concerned about its light bulb sales. The state's voice in the federal government could clearly define the difference between interstate and intrastate commerce.
Utah would not have to enact legislation to "allow" the legislature to counsel its Senators, or to "request" reports from them, were the 17th Amendment to be repealed. It is time to return to the states the sovereignty that the 17th Amendment stripped from them.