Thursday, February 18, 2010

Connecticut State Sovereignty?

Tenth Amendment Legislation Moves Forward

Grassroots activists from around Connecticut gathered at the capitol complex Wednesday, February 17th, to join me and a coalition of legislative leaders in announcing that the Government Administration and Elections Committee (GAE) will raise legislation reasserting Connecticut’s Tenth Amendment rights under the Constitution.

Just hours before the press conference scheduled to call on Democrat leadership to raise the legislation, we heard from Sen. Gayle Slossberg, co-chair of GAE, that our proposed resolution would be raised for a public hearing. I have no doubt that the leadership and dedication of the many activists who showed their support last Wednesday played an important role in moving this legislation forward. It was a powerful display of democracy in action. But activists can’t stop here. When the public hearing is scheduled in the coming weeks, it will be an even greater opportunity for citizens to exhort legislators from both sides of the aisle to stand up for the Constitution.

The Tenth Amendment Resolution calls on Congress to create only statutes that fall within their constitutional authority. The Constitution has only given Congress the authority to make laws that pertain to certain issues such as taxation, international commerce, currency regulation, the federal Judiciary, and the armed forces to name a few. The Constitution also grants Congress the authority to make laws necessary and proper for the carrying out of their enumerated powers which is a clause that has been manipulated to grant the federal government authority far beyond what our founding fathers intended. The Tenth Amendment reasserts that Congress may only make laws that fall within their Constitutional authority.

The federal government has been steadily expanding their authority in areas the Constitution has not authorized. Even ‘conservative’ federal administrations have ignored the Constitution and imposed both health and educational mandates on states. The most recent federal health care proposal, if passed, will be by far the most serious overreach of Congressional power and it is time for states to begin speaking up. Washington DC has a terrible habit of passing unfunded mandates down to states and the Connecticut General Assembly has done the same thing to our towns and cities. This top down approach on both the state and federal level is unsustainable, unconstitutional, and must stop.

If passed, the Tenth Amendment Resolution will be a key step towards defining in state statute the limits of congressional power. I also proposed legislation that would have taken that next step to define statutorily Connecticut’s rights under the Tenth Amendment and create a method by which the state can review federal laws, regulations and programs for compliance with the Tenth Amendment. I am still committed to pursuing the proposed statutes and consider the headway made on the resolution an important step in the right direction.

While this legislation won’t singlehandedly stop Congress from legislating issues outside their enumerated powers, it will make a strong statement that the people of the Constitution state are no longer willing to allow the federal government free reign over their lives. The Tenth Amendment should speak for itself and I only hope that the federal government will be reminded by our efforts in Connecticut to conduct their legislation within its boundaries.

Congratulations to the Connecticut Grassroots Coalition for their hard work!