White House Fixes Federalism Edict; Cities Laud Move

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President Clinton has signed a new executive order on federalism designed to strengthen the governing partnership between the administration and state and local governments. The action came Friday after months of negotiations between the White House and seven state and local public interest groups ("The Big Seven").

In a letter to President Clinton, NLC President Clarence Anthony said the executive order clarifies key federalism issues and provides greater guidance to federal agencies when dealing with rules that will affect cities.

"We are encouraged by your commitment to crafting an enforceable executive order that seeks to balance the needs of federal, state, and local governments in order to achieve that true partnership among all levels of government envisioned by America's founding fathers," Anthony wrote.

The new executive order says federal regulations may preempt state and local laws only when Congress expressly dictates they do so or gives the executive agency clear authority to supercede state and local government. In cases where there are significant uncertainties about whether national action is authorized or appropriate, the new order requires agencies to consult with appropriate state and local officials to determine "whether federal objectives can be obtained by other means." The order also requires federal agencies to certify to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that the requirements of the executive order have been followed in preparing any draft final regulations and proposed legislation that have federalism implications. Anthony commended President Clinton and the Administration for "working cooperatively in good faith" with the seven state and local public interest groups after an earlier draft order was suspended last summer in the face of strong objections to its intrusion into state and local matters.

In a statement released with the signing, President Clinton said the order will "strengthen our partnership with state and local governments and ensure mat executive branch agencies are able to do their work on behalf of the American people. …