CSG’s Focus on Federalism Initiative
For 80 years, The Council of State Governments has helped states solve problems by connecting leaders to innovative ideas and successful policies within the community of states. State-based innovation, however, is increasingly impacted by a growing web of federal policies and regulations. If states are to continue to fulfill their role as the “laboratories of democracy” envisioned by our founders, then a fuller understanding is needed of the powers, duties and limitations inherent in our federal system.
A 2011 report by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget noted that unfunded mandates and regulations cost states, cities and the general public between $44 and $62 billion each year. The same report stated that the public benefits of these rules far outweigh the monetary cost of compliance. For the states, businesses and communities left to cover the costs of a growing set of Congressional mandates and rulemaking actions, however, the balance often looks decidedly different. In addition, rules imposed on states by independent federal agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are not even calculated by OMB as they are not covered under the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act.
Given that the United States has entered into a new age of austerity, where grant flows from the federal government will be constrained for the foreseeable future, it is vital that states are afforded maximum flexibility in meeting the needs of their citizens and that our country reaches a much clearer understanding of the costs of mandates, regulatory action and pre-emption.
In 2013 and 2014, CSG’s National Chair Sen. Gary Stevens of Alaska and CSG’s National Chair-Elect Sen. Mark Norris of Tennessee have agreed to pursue a multiyear effort aimed at strengthening CSG’s role in advancing the role of the states in our federal system. The effort is designed to be member-driven through the creation and staffing of a new Federalism Task Force and, at the direction of this new group, the deployment of CSG programming, products and services—through both current and new platforms—in support of this goal.
Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris
CSG 2014 National Chair
Alaska Sen. Gary Stevens
CSG 2014 National Immediate Past Chair