March 03, 2016
control, home rule, states’ rights, the laboratories of democracy. Good stuff.
But federalism can go too far.
as described by attorney Paul S. Weiland, is the “simultaneous expansion in
power of a higher level of government and reduction in power of a lower level
Washington bosses around towns, cities, counties, and states, freedom-lovers
bristle. But the consternation isn’t always warranted. The Senate Committee on
Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry recently approved a preemption that limits
government and helps consumers.
mention of a genetically
modified organism (GMO) sends junk-science liberals stumbling for their fainting couches. No
many authoritative entities sign off on the safety and benefits of
gene-spliced foods, the nuttiness persists. One of the most rabid moonbat
movements underway today seeks to impose GMO-labeling requirements by state governments.
But in D.C., the hysteria faces a dire threat.
year, Daryl E. Thomas, senior vice president of sales and marketing at
Congress that mandating “GMO labeling at the state level would create a
patchwork of … regulations that would be virtually impossible for companies --
particularly mid-sized, family-owned companies such as ours -- to navigate.” So
earlier this month, the Committee on Agriculture approved a measure, backed by
Sen. Pat Roberts, (R-KS), to set “national uniformity, based on science, for
labeling food or seeds that are genetically engineered,” allowing “the value
chain from farmer-to-processor-to-shipper-to-retailer-to-consumer to continue
as the free market intended.”
by “more than 650 farmers, cooperatives, agribusinesses, processors, seed
makers, handlers, food and feed manufacturers, lenders, and retailers,” the
legislation torpedoes the crusade -- already successful in the People’s Republic of Bernie
Sanders -- to adopt state GMO-labeling laws. It faces an uncertain future
on the Senate floor, but a similar bill has already passed the House of
Representatives by a wide margin.
bullying? Hardly. The U.S. food industry falls well within the scope of the Constitution’s
commerce clause. Thomas noted that his relatively modest firm’s “products
are distributed via 500 company-owned routes, 380 independent operator routes,
and a network of brokers, wholesalers and distributors located throughout the
48 contiguous states.” Yes, the federal government is far too big. But a
single, national standard for GMO labeling -- assuming the information is
needed at all -- makes sense.
states launch preemptive controls, too. Last year, Texas
removed the power of local governments to ban fracking. The legislation
struck a reasonable compromise. As the Texas
Tribune reported, municipalities and counties retain authority over “fire
and emergency response, traffic, lights and noise … if such rules [are]
legislators and governor enacted a ban on local minimum wages. The
smackdown was a response to Birmingham’s adoption of a $10.10-per-hour floor in
a state that has no minimum wage, and is thus subject to the federal dictate of
$7.25. Idaho is weighing a similar measure, which has passed the House, and
awaits action in the Senate. During its now-adjourned legislative session, New
Mexico considered a bill to strangle the
City of Albuquerque’s proposed “Fair Workweek Act” in the crib.
confused -- preemption doesn’t always involve rollbacks of trendy leftism. A
state overreach worthy of federal scrutiny is Greg Abbott’s obsession with
Iran. Lobbying the Texas congressional delegation to block the “Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action” regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear
program, the Lone Star State’s chief executive offered this absurdity: “So long
as Iran is a threat to Israel, Iran is a threat to Texas.” But the deal went
through, and in February, a frustrated Abbott declared that the “Texas
Prohibition on Investment in Iran Act” remained on the books, and that it’s
still “the policy of the State of Texas to prohibit investment of taxpayer
dollars in Iran. These sanctions have and will continue to ensure that Texas
does its part to prevent taxpayer dollars from aiding and abetting a country
that is openly hostile to the United States and its allies abroad.” Sorry,
governor, but notwithstanding your Bibi bromance,
international relations is Washington’s bailiwick. As law professor Hoard N.
Fenton wrote, “states simply do not have a role under the constitution in
articulating and executing independent foreign policies.”
can be unnecessary -- e.g., the George W. Bush
administration’s attack on Oregon’s right-to-die law. But in many
instances, it’s a reasonable step to ensure that public policy occurs at the
proper level. Local and state governments should understand the distinction, and
know when it’s time to keep their hands to themselves.
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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