Washington, D.C.-The nation's governors are calling on Congress to stem the tide of a disturbing new federal trend-implementing broad federal preemptions that restrict states' own laws and policies. Testifying before the House Government Affairs Committee, NGA Executive Director Raymond C. Scheppach voiced the governors' support of the bipartisan Federalism Act of 1999 (H.R. 2245) and urged that the landmark bill move as quickly as possible.
"While shifting power to the states with one hand, the federal government has been busy taking power away from states with the other hand. The independence and responsibility that devolution has given states in certain areas is being offset by preemption elsewhere," Scheppach said. "Even as states have benefited enormously from block grants during the past few years, the federal government has preempted state laws that affect trade, telecommunications, financial services, electronic commerce and other areas."
In his testimony, Scheppach pointed to several existing laws that preempt state authority, including:
The National Securities Markets' Improvement Act of 1996, which weakened states' capacities to protect consumers on securities activities conducted within state boundaries and preempted revenue sources for the investigation and enforcement of fraud and other abusive practices;
The consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act of 1991, which preempted state annexation laws making it difficult to provide utility and economic development services in rural areas under state laws;
The Telecommunications Act of 1996, which preempted state regulation of inherently local businesses to federal regulators; and
The Internet Tax Freedom Act, which preempted state and local authority over taxing authority on transactions over the Internet.
The governor-backed H. …