Federalism and International Relations Task Force Presents Real World Solutions to Real World Challenges
ALEC’s 2020 virtual Annual Meeting featured the exceptional educational opportunities that attendees have come to expect at in-person ALEC conferences – real world policy proposals to meet America’s current challenges. Here are the newly approved model policies (and related highlights) from last month’s Federalism and International Relations Task Force meeting:
(Dual-Referred to the Homeland Security Task Force)
ALEC members are almost uniformly committed to reforming state emergency management acts. State policies are frequently outdated and riddled with ambiguities that lead to gubernatorial overreach and civil liberties violations. Scott Walker addressed the topic from his perspective as a former Wisconsin governor expressing concern that governors had exceeded their legal powers, pointing out that “rule of law applies even in the midst of an emergency.” He reminded governors during his talk at the Task Force that, “You don’t get to suspend the constitution, the separation of powers even in the midst of what [is] perceived to be an emergency.”
Federalism has proven its resilience on both sides of the Atlantic during the pandemic. Speaker Robin Vos (WI), President of NCSL emphasized the need for states to establish a National Federalism Task Force observing, “There is no better organization than ALEC to begin to coordinate” its creation. Vos concluded, “ALEC, hopefully, can lead the way.” The Task Force adopted this resolution before the Annual Meeting to highlight the critical role that America’s 50 laboratories of democracy optimally should play in this crisis. Germany also based its response to COVID-19 on federalism principles with an eye to balancing economic and health priorities. This Hanns Seidel Foundation/American Council on Germany webinar touches on how that fellow federal republic addressed their challenges.
A Re-Empowerment of the States Amendment to the US Constitution would be another powerful tool to help states reassert their Tenth Amendment authority. If ratified, this Amendment would empower the states to repeal all or part of any Presidential Executive Order, regulation or administrative ruling issued by a department or agency of the Federal Government. Congressional testimony on the topic is here.
To ensure that the states accept grants that introduce controversial policies into the states, the federal administrative state attaches highly prescriptive consent procedures to grant offers. These procedural requirements differ from grant to grant, but can prescribe, for example, the official who must accept the grant on behalf of the state and the consultative process that official must use. This model policy requests that Congress and the federal executive prohibit grant consent practices through legislation, executive orders, and amendments to the Code of Federal Regulations.
Territorial control is fundamental to state sovereignty, as outlined in this ALEC article, and this resolution serves to help the western states assert authority over select federal lands within their borders. More than 50% of US land from Colorado westward is under federal stewardship ranging from 30% of Montana to 80% of Nevada. An ALEC white paper on the topic is here.
COVID relief efforts have pushed the national debt to unsustainable levels that cannot be ignored. Former Wisconsin Governor Walker and David Biddulph of Let Us Vote for a BBA headlined a panel about how the states and the American people can restore fiscal responsibility to the federal government with the adoption of a balanced budget amendment (BBA) to the US Constitution. At an ALEC workshop on Tuesday, July 21 Walker and Biddulph were joined by OH Senate Majority Leader Matt Huffman. Read an overview of the workshop here.
America’s potential adversaries have, if anything, increased their geopolitical assertiveness as the US and much of the West have been singularly focused on addressing the global health crisis. A powerful weapon in China’s soft power arsenal are Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-sponsored Confucius Institutes at university campuses around the world. They serve as platforms to control the perception of China and President Xi Jinping overseas; to disseminate CCP propaganda; and to spy on Chinese students studying abroad. This model policy might require amendments soon as China announced rebranding plans including a name change.
Ramping up international trade is one of the surest ways to jump start the US economy which is why the Task Force seized the opportunity of Britain’s final exit from the European Union to update existing model policy supporting the negotiation of a US-UK Free Trade Agreement. With 75% of global spending and 96% of the world’s consumers overseas, international commerce is vital to America’s economic growth both nationally and in the states.
The Federalism and International Relations Task Force will meet again in December – hopefully in-person!