Free Markets, Free People

States Rights

CO and WA’s pot laws – what’s going to happen?

Colorado and Washington had referrendums on their ballots this past election day in which growing pot for one’s own use was legalized.  Much like home brewing laws, users were given the go ahead to grow enough marijuana for their own, private use.

So what does that mean in the big scheme of things?  Certainly it will mean that at a state level, given the new law, state and local police aren’t going to be looking for small time users or growers.   And the Fed certainly doesn’t have the manpower to go after them.

The Washington Post points out:

But it’s unrealistic and unwise to expect federal officials to pick up the slack left by state law- enforcement officers who used to enforce marijuana prohibitions against pot users and small-time growers. Unrealistic, because it would require lots more resources.

Resources they don’t, frankly, have.

So here we have two states acting as sort of “labs” for freedom.  You know, trying something out as we were told states should do under a “federal” system.

Now, you may not agree about this particular application, but that’s how this system was supposed to work, wasn’t it?

The next obvious question then is will the Federal government allow that to happen or will it attempt to stop it.   My guess is even the Federal government knows it can’t stop it physically, so it will likely resort to legal means (i.e. somehow have the laws declared invalid, thereby again making Federal law supreme and requiring LEOs to enforce them).  But that could be a very long and protracted process.

For once (is there a blue moon out there?) in a very long time, the Washington Post and I agree for the most part:

[W]e favor decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot, assessing civil fines instead of locking people up. Also, for that reason and others, the Justice Department should hold its fire on a lawsuit challenging Colorado and Washington’s decision to behave more leniently. And state officials involved in good-faith efforts to regulate marijuana production and distribution according to state laws should be explicitly excused from federal targeting.

It’s not yet clear how a quasi-legal pot industry might operate in Colorado and Washington or what its public-health effects will be. It could be that these states are harbingers of a slow, national reassessment of marijuana policy. Or their experiment could serve as warning for the other 48 states.

For now, the federal government does not need to stage an aggressive intervention, one way or the other. It can wait, watch and enforce the most worrisome violations as they occur.

Where we disagree is the next to last sentence.  If you’re going to stay out of it now, stay out of it later.  You can’t “leave it up to the states” until you decide not too.  And, it would be a nice decentralization of power – you know, federalism – which allow the states what they were originally supposed to enjoy – a certain level of autonomy (remember, the federal government was originally supposed to be mostly focused externally while the states, within Constitutional limits, pretty much looked after themselves.).

It would be a nice change from the constant attempts by the Fed to accrue power.

~McQ

Missouri says "no" to ObamaCare

In the most telling poll of all – a vote – the citizens of Missouri overwhelmingly voted not to participate in ObamaCare. 71% voted for Proposition C which prohibits Missouri from compelling people to pay a penalty or fine if they fail to carry health coverage.

Of course that obviously doesn’t mean that percentage isn’t going to or doesn’t carry health coverage. Instead it is a grassroots rejection of the premise that the federal government has either the power or authority to make them. And they’ve just prohibited their state from enforcing such a law.

 However:

The Missouri vote is likely to have little immediate practical effect because the mandate doesn’t take effect until 2014. If federal courts uphold the federal law as constitutional, it would take precedence over any state law that contradicts it.

And, of course, I loved this:

Opponents included the Missouri Hospital Association, which said that if the mandate isn’t enforced some who can afford insurance will get a free ride and pass the costs on to those who are insured.

Really? You mean like what is done now under Medicare and Medicaid?

But I think this Missouri state senator may have the best point:

“This really wasn’t an effort to poke the president in the eye,” said State Senator Jim Lembke, a Republican. “First and foremost, this was about defining the role of state government and the role of federal government. Whether it’s here in Missouri with health care or in Arizona with illegal immigration, the states are going to get together on this now.”

States have been getting the short end of the mandate stick for decades.  Yet many of them work under two constraints the federal government doesn’t.  One, most of them are required by law to have a balanced budget.  Unfunded mandates of the sort imposed by ObamaCare take a wrecking ball to that sort of requirement.  Secondly, the states can’t print money at their whim.  Therefore they must borrow any money to fulfill the mandates.

This and the Arizona law may be the first shots in a long war that sees the states again asserting their rights.  It will mostly be fought out in the courts and its outcome is going to be critical to the America we are a part of in the future. 

If the courts side with the Obama administration, then there’s just about nothing the federal government can’t do or  which it can’t involve itself.   And as we’ve seen in the last 18 months, it doesn’t take long, if the circumstances are right, for it to intrude to levels never before seen.

But regardless of the outcome in court, the Missouri vote is important.  The “Show Me” state is a rather purple state, so I think most expected the vote to be somewhat close with those rejecting ObamaCare winning out.  Instead, we see a huge margin rejecting the premise.

It should send a signal to both parties, and it should certainly have Democrats quaking in their boots about November.

Whether or not the parties will heed the message remains to be seen, but the voters of Missouri have pretty much voiced what I think the majority of this country feels – “thanks, but no thanks”.  Back off, downsize and cut spending.  And stay out of our lives and our health care.

~McQ

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Virginia State Senate Rejects Health Care Insurance Mandate

In a bit of a surprising move the Virginia Senate has rejected the Obama health care insurance mandate:

Virginia’s Democratic-controlled state Senate passed measures Monday that would make it illegal to require individuals to purchase health insurance, a direct challenge to the party’s efforts in Washington to reform health care.

Let’s just say that “direct challenge” seems to be an understatement here. I was expected that the lower house, the GOP controlled House of Delegates, would pass such a bill, but not the Democratically controlled Senate:

Each of three similar bills that passed the state Senate on Monday would run counter to legislation passed by both chambers of Congress, which would require all individuals to purchase health care.

The bills were also expected to be approved by the GOP-controlled House of Delegates. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said he will review the bills but supports their intent.

What legal power this would have if such a mandate was passed by Congress is anyone’s guess, but it sure does set up an “interested party” for a law suit doesn’t it?

And, as I implied in the opening, VA isn’t the only state making such moves:

Measures prompted by the Washington debate are pending in at least 29 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

VA’s argument is a constitutional one – backers of the bill claim that Congress does not have the constitutional authority to require anyone buy insurance. This bill, if signed into law, puts VA in the position to challenge any such law on those grounds should Congress pass one.

And that is the fate, I believe, of any such reform that Congress tries to pass – lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit. And frankly I’m glad to see states trying to reassert their rights in this supposedly federal system. That is another great way to begin reigning in the national government.

Of course most of this is driven by politics and the desire of pols to keep their jobs. Any guess as to what is getting the credit?

The bills, a top priority of Virginia’s “tea party” movement, were approved 23 to 17 as five Democrats who represent swing areas of the state joined all 18 Republicans in the chamber in backing the legislation.

Yeah, baby!

For Congressional Democrats, it’s another warning shot right across the bow.  I have to wonder how many it will take to finally get their attention and have them scuttle that health care reform bill monstrosity on their own?

~McQ

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North Dakota’s “Secessionist” Resolution

What to make of this trend? I think Oklahoma got the 10th Amendment push-back ball 10th-amendmentrolling, Montana advanced the ball several yards, Texas got into the game recently (albeit, too glibly), several other states are getting their shots in, and now North Dakota takes it’s turn.

The resolution in the North Dakota legislature asking the federal government to begin recognizing the 10th amendment and to stop overreach into state matters, the one the Fargo Forum wrote off as being part of a “secessionist movement, has passed in the Senate. By a strictly party-line vote, unfortunately, meaning not one Democrat in the legislature had enough respect for the sovereignty of North Dakota to vote for it.

[...]

The resolution now goes to the House, where I expect it will also pass. Also, I’m guessing, by a strictly party-line vote. Which, if it happens, would be a small bright spot in an otherwise dim legislative session. It takes a certain level of conviction for politicians to vote for a resolution like this one. Would that the Republicans voting for it now had the courage of those convictions when faced with legislation that grows spending and government in the state.

At Say Anything, Rob Port has a copy of a state Senator Joe Miller‘s speech in support of the resolution from the Senate floor. I recommend you go there and read it.

Does it limit the feds, or not?

Does it limit the feds, or not?


Combined with some Governors rejecting portions of the stimulus funds, and the Tea Parties breaking out all over the country, I’d say it’s a good sign that people are finally telling Washington to take a hike. Personally, I would say that both Porkbusters and the Sunlight Foundation are owed some credit as well, but either way it’s about time that the federal government was reminded of its place. Granted, it’s a fairly small reminder, but maybe one that can be built upon.

So where does all of this lead anyway. Is there any hope that all of this momentum will lead to less federal government interference? How about some support for repealing the 17th Amendment? I’d like to think that it will end up reducing the size of government (i.e. electing fiscally conservative representatives who will cut taxes and greatly slash spending), but once that horse left the barn, the barn was burned to the ground and a giant spending dance was done on the smoldering ashes. Nevertheless, is there some small ray of hope that the states will rein in our profligate Congress?

This Could Be Interesting

If they can get this passed, it might shake things up in the states rights arena:

This week the Oklahoma House of Representatives Rules Committee voted unanimously to support House Joint Resolution 1003 authored by state Rep. Charles Key. Key’s proposal should now be headed to the floor of the House where I look forward to supporting it.

HJR 1003 seeks to reassert Oklahoma’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and according to the resolution’s language, serves as “Notice and Demand to the federal government, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.

The 10th Amendment states: “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.”

Of course it will end up in court if passed, but I would love to see it upheld and it lead to more 10th amendment exceptions leading toward a reestablishment of more states rights.

Read the rest of the article – Rep. Jason Murphey makes a good case concerning levels of influence and representation. His point about those with money driving national politics is well taken.

~McQ