BOISE – Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and GOP lawmakers are calling for amending the United States Constitution to broaden states’ rights.
“Too often, we find ourselves bemoaning the erosion of our state sovereignty because of the imposition and intrusion of federal programs,” Otter wrote in a letter to Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney. “If we want change, we must change the very document from which the federal government derives its power: the United States Constitution.”
Rep. Ken Roberts, the House majority caucus chairman, presented a resolution Monday to a House committee calling for just that, and the panel voted – largely along party lines – to move it to the full House on a fast track.
The measure urges Congress to approve amendments to narrow the scope of the Commerce Clause and broaden the 10th Amendment on states’ rights. Among other changes, the proposal calls for adding a sentence to the Constitution declaring that “any power claimed by the Congress shall be construed narrowly by all courts so as not to infringe upon or limit the powers reserved to the States,” and adding that Congress has “no authority … to regulate matters that are primarily intrastate.”
Roberts called the resolution “a significant step towards bringing the control back to the individual states.”
Four of the House State Affairs Committee’s five Democrats voted “no,” with state Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, the lone exception.
A similar measure passed the Wyoming Legislature at the urging of that state’s governor, Democrat Dave Freudenthal, and he signed it into law last week, according to his press secretary, Leigh Anne Manlove. Otter said in his letter to lawmakers that he and Freudenthal want to persuade other Western governors to endorse the move, which would require two-thirds approval from each house of Congress and then ratification from three-quarters of the states.