Tag Archives: nullification

The Inmates Running Indiana’s Asylum

Meanwhile, on the local front….

As I was busy avoiding last Friday’s Inauguration, a reader sent me the digest of an bill introduced in the Indiana legislature, demonstrating that insanity isn’t confined to Washington, D.C.

The official synopsis of House Bill 1127 reads as follows:

Nullification of EPA regulations in Indiana. Nullifies all regulations imposed in Indiana by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Provides that the department of environmental management shall provide environmental protection for the citizens of Indiana. Effective: July 1, 2017.

The fiscal analysis of the measure (which evidently assumes that there is no such thing as the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution) is blunt: According to the Legislative Services Agency’s Office of Fiscal and Management Analysis,

the bill nullifies all regulations imposed in Indiana by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It provides that the Department of Environmental Management shall provide environmental protection for the citizens of Indiana… The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) would be solely responsible for providing environmental protection for the state due to the nullification of U.S. EPA regulations provided in this bill. The impact to IDEM would be the loss of federal funds from the U.S. EPA that are used to run programs and provide funding for the staff assigned to those programs. This would also result in a reduction of the amount of state matching funds (about $11 M in dedicated funds annually) that the state would have to provide to receive the federal funds. If IDEM continues the programs, the costs would be funded only through state appropriations.

This bill could result in the loss of about $22.5 M annually in federal funding from the U.S. EPA. Of this amount, about $2.2 M was disbursed to local units in FY 2016…. Local units receiving funding from U.S. EPA grants through IDEM could experience a decline in funding. For FY 2016, local units received about $2.2 M in grant funding through U.S. EPA funds received by IDEM.

The operative phrase, of course, is “If IDEM continues the programs…” It is fairly obvious that the purpose of this legislation is to allow Indiana to discontinue programs that protect the state’s air and water.

I have no idea whether this retrograde effort will get a hearing, nor do I know anything about Representative Judy, who introduced it. We can hope that legislative leadership recognizes both the unconstitutionality of the measure–after all, states cannot simply “nullify” federal regulations with which they disagree, no matter how much they might want to–and the considerable political capital it would cost them.

Despite the rejection of climate science by Republican ideologues and Trump cabinet nominees, survey research confirms that large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats accept settled science and strongly favor environmental protections.

Bills like this raise the question–perennial in Indiana–WHO ELECTS THESE PEOPLE??

We’re All Becoming Texas

My husband says I’ve been in a bad mood since 2000. I’m entitled.

On Monday, the Republican-led Texas House passed HB 1076 , a bill that would ban state agencies from enforcing any new federal gun laws, including background checks. The self-satisfied know-nothings who voted for this bill are very pleased with themselves.

Talk about embarrassing. Every student who participated in the We the People competition I referenced earlier this week would know better.

I don’t know whether this bit of unconstitutional stupidity is the product of grandstanding or ignorance, but really–how much dumber can state lawmakers get? Granted, Texas is in a league of its own, but there are plenty of other states–largely but not exclusively in the south–where similarly ridiculous measures are being solemnly debated and enacted. (Next-door Louisiana, where several loony laws championed by boy Governor Bobby Jindal have been struck down by the courts is a case in point. And the Indiana General Assembly keeps trying to equal its signal accomplishment–passage of a law in 1897 changing the value of pi.)

Read my lips: nullification runs afoul of the Supremacy Clause. In language even Texas legislators should be able to understand, that means that there is a provision in the U.S. Constitution that says federal laws trump inconsistent state laws. States don’t get to decide which federal laws they’ll obey.

I’m so tired of these posturing morons–and so disappointed in the voters who elected them. Gerrymandering can only explain so much.

America is currently experiencing the “perfect storm”–paranoia and anti-intellectualism have combined to destroy any semblance of rationality.  The adults have left the room; the inmates are running the asylum.

We are left with only self-parody.

State’s Rights and Wrongs

“States’ Rights” are back.

The last time a significant number of states resisted federal edicts was during the 50’s and 60’s, when they were fighting desegregation and insisting  that the big, bad federal government couldn’t tell them that “equal protection of the laws” meant giving actual equal rights to black people.

This time around, “states’ rights” has a new name: nullification. But it’s really the same old song; indeed, both the words and the music are all too familiar.

Nullification is the theory that states have the right to reject federal law. It is a discredited theory that ignores pesky constitutional details like the supremacy clause, not to mention the last hundred years or so of constitutional jurisprudence.

Ostensibly, what set off the current political tantrum was the Affordable Care Act, aka health care reform. Like a two-year-old screaming “you can’t make me!” to his mother, legislatures in several states are in the process of declaring that the federal government can’t force them to comply. (Those legislative shrieks of defiance are likely to have precisely the same effect as the shrieks of the two-year-old—which is to say, none. Mothers and the federal government will always have the last word.)

The real question raised by current efforts at nullification is: why? What is so terrifying, or awful, about reforming the health-care system so that 50 million uninsured Americans will have access to at least a minimum level of care? What is so totalitarian/Socialist/Nazi-ish about telling health insurers that they can’t deny you coverage you paid for simply because you got sick? I understand differences of opinion about the particulars of the reform—I would have preferred a different approach myself—but policy disputes don’t spawn the sort of hysteria we are seeing.

It becomes a little clearer when you see what other elements of federal law the more reactionary states are rejecting. Arizona was the first state to enact a draconian measure targeting immigrants, even though immigration is a matter reserved to the federal government, and other states—including Indiana—are scrambling to do the same.  Listen to the rhetoric about immigrants, then listen to the fury over health care, and you will hear an ugly common theme: everything that’s going wrong in this country is “their” fault. And who are “they”? Poor people, brown people, gay people…anyone who is different, anyone who is “other.”  Unlike “us,” “they” are all undeserving.

History teaches us that inter-group tensions increase during bad economic times. People are anxious and fearful and looking for someone to blame.

I just hope the recovery picks up steam before we “nullify” America.