Happy Independence Day from The Heartland Institute! For many, Independence Day includes festivities, fireworks, and happy memories shared among friends, family, and fellow Americans. As a supporter of liberty, Heartland knows Independence Day is a holiday that embodies the epitome of freedom. We gladly welcome celebrations commemorating the colonies’ warranted demand for independence.
With the signing of the Declaration of Independence, 13 colonies became (officially) engaged in an epic struggle with the mightiest military force in the world at that time. Providentially, the colonies emerged victorious. The significance of this historic day has been monumental, both for Americans and for citizens in countries around the world.
The break from British tyranny led to a world-changing revolution. A whole new system of government was created based upon personal freedom and federalism. Under this groundbreaking system, the state and federal governments were supposed to share power. Even better, personal liberties were to be protected and the federal government assigned limited, enumerated powers. Remaining powers were granted to the states and the people. A truly remarkable system, indeed.
This concept of states’ rights was imperative to the Declaration of Independence. In their letter to King George, the colonies urged that power must be derived “from the consent of the governed.” One of the many listed grievances by the colonists noted King George used said power, without consent, to bring about “legislative bodies … for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.”
Indeed, this notion of state sovereignty is prominent in nearly every part of the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution gives explicit directives for the federal branches of government, and the Bill of Rights ends with the 10th Amendment, which states those “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution … are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Regrettably, states’ rights have been eroded in recent decades. The federal government, in a manner similar to the wretchedness of King George, has encroached on and highjacked state prerogatives, not to mention a whole host of personal freedoms. From threatening highway funding to establishing “emissions guidelines for states to use,” the federal government has frequently infringed on the autonomy of state governments. The Trump administration has made great strides toward reducing the power of the federal government in many areas, but much work remains.
The national government’s power grab is deeply troubling, especially since the federal government currently holds more than $22 trillion in public debt, nearly $1 trillion more than it held on July 3, 2018. Due to the programs the federal government has forced upon states, there will undoubtedly come a period in which states will be unable to afford the costs brought by Washington, DC. If things don’t change soon, tough times are almost certainly coming our way.
Fortunately, states don’t need to air a list of grievances on Twitter to reinforce the philosophy our Founding Fathers laid out. Article V of the U.S. Constitution authorizes states to meet in a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. Such a convention could limit the authority of the federal government, should the states choose to agree to an amendment.
Several attempts to enact Article V have taken place, yet none have been successful. Groups supporting a constitutional convention include the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force and Convention of States.
As state lawmakers, it is imperative representatives protect the interests of their constituents. Part of this sacred duty involves shielding Americans from the abusive actions of the federal government. As the colonists understood, it is “the Right of the People to alter or abolish” a destructive government. State legislatures should use their constitutional right to remedy the egregious abuses of power perpetuated by the federal government.
What We’re Working On
Budget & Tax
Supreme Court Ruling Is Major Win for Capitalism (Guest: Anya Bidwell)
In this episode of the Heartland Daily Podcast, State Government Relations Manager Lindsey Stroud is joined by Institute for Justice attorney Anya Bidwell to discuss her recent litigation in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Russell F. Thomas. The Court struck down a Tennessee statute that effectively discriminated against non-residents by requiring liquor store retailers to be residents of the state for two years prior to obtaining a retailer liquor permit, and to be a resident for 10 years in order to renew a liquor license. Stroud and Bidwell discuss the case, how it relates to the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, and the effects the ruling will likely have on other states’ regulatory regimes.
Sen. Cruz Calls for Expansion of Education Savings Plans
This story from Budget & Tax News details how U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is proposing to expand education choice by allowing families to use a type of 529 College Savings Plan for homeschooling and other K-12 education expenses. The 529 plans allow parents, grandparents, or others to save for the future college expenses of a designated beneficiary. A type of 529 plan known as an education savings plan allows up to $10,000 per year per beneficiary of funds in the plan to be used for tuition at any public, private, or religious elementary or secondary school.
Energy & Environment
Should EPA Reverse Its Endangerment Finding on Greenhouse Gases?
This Heartland Policy Brief authored Senior Fellow Joe Bast argues the grounds for reversing the Environmental Protection Agency’s Endangerment Finding are robust, and this action is long overdue. The Endangerment Finding is vulnerable on purely scientific grounds. Although its supporters claim to have a “mountain” of research in its defense, upon closer scrutiny, their case is nothing more than a molehill of real science and data, on top of which is piled reams of speculation based on invalidated computer models and circumstantial evidence.
Single-Payer Health Care Should Be Dead Upon Arrival
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines single-payer health care systems, their many flaws, and outlines why legislators should resist efforts to implement these reforms at both the state and federal levels. Glans argues the best way to preserve individual freedom, improve the quality of health care, and enhance the efficiency of the nation’s health care system is to empower individuals by giving them more control over the dollars they spend (or choose not to spend) on health care. Single-payer systems do the exact opposite.
From Our Free-Market Friends
2019 Surveying the Military: What America’s Active-Duty Servicemembers and Spouses Think About Military Life and K–12 Education
In this EdChoice report, authors Paul DiPerna, Lindsey Burke, and Drew Catt share the results of a 2019 online survey of 1,295 active-duty military servicemembers and their spouses to gain a better understanding of the experiences and views of military families in America toward K-12 education; and to expand on EdChoice’s first military survey in 2017.