HR 45 is a bad bill on many levels.  The largest problem is that it is indicative of the lack of respect for state sovereignty.  The pending legislation regarding a national emissions standards bill is another example.  Requiring the automakers to manufacture vehicles that conform to a national standard is one thing.  Forcing states to spend money to enforce it on existing vehicles is entirely another.  Forcing poor people to scrap their perfectly good vehicle is abominable.  Forcing small garages to yet again invest in thousands of dollars worth of new equipment is another travesty.  Do you know any small garages that do inspections?   Ask them how they feel about it.

We can get all worked up about the gun bill, or the car bill, or whatever else comes down the pike… or we can address the real, underlying issue.  The federal government simply does not have the right to impose any of these regulations.  It is amazing to me how backward the public regards this issue.  The majority actually think that the states have to prove the case.

Arguments in favor of federal regulation rest on two legs:

US Constitution, Article 1 Section. 8. Clause 3:

“Congress shall have power to… To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”

and clause 18:

“The Congress shall have Power – To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

This does not however, support most federal regulation.  Let’s use the emissions regulation as an example.  The federal position will be that states must comply in order to keep interstate commerce regular, in the sense that we won’t have cars on one state that can’t be sold in another.  That’s pretty weak isn’t it?  It’s also wrong.  Since some states do have emissions regulations, it can be argued that the federal government can regulate the auto industry to meet the emissions requirements of the most stringent, thereby facilitating interstate commerce.  Realize also, that this regulation can only be applied to a car that will be sold.  In the absence of a transaction, the federal government has no power to regulate.  If I don’t plan on selling my car, there is no legal case that would support requiring me to adhere to a federal emissions standard.  The only way it can be justified is if it is made part of the process for an interstate vehicle sale.

So, who has the case to prove?  Not the states.  The tenth amendment reads:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

New Hampshire (or any state) need only assert its right to be free of this federal regulation (prohibited to it by the states).  The federal government must then make the legal case showing that emissions regulation is “necessary and proper” legislation to regulate interstate commerce… with the point being that it helps interstate commerce.

So… isn’t it time we started making federal lawmakers and administrations do their job?  Isn’t it time that we started requiring our state lawmakers to do theirs?  Instead of hand wringing and helplessly accepting every new regulation… just say no.  The legal burden is clearly on the federal government to prove why they have the power.  It is not incumbent upon the states to prove their rights… they’re written down pretty clearly.

Steve