Ark. panel rejects state sovereignty resolution

Published Thursday, March 05, 2009

LITTLE ROCK (AP) A backer of a nonbinding resolution asserting Arkansas' state sovereignty compared the measure to redrawing the lines of a football field to remind people of the boundaries.

But the majority-Democrat committee that considered the measure said the Constitution itself is a good enough guide on its own.

The House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs voted down the sovereignty resolution Wednesday, after no Democrats joined forces with Republicans to support the measure. The resolution is one of dozens filed in legislatures nationwide in response to federal programs like No Child Left Behind and the recent $787 billion stimulus package passed by Congress.

"It's very similar to re-marking the lines on a football field. Every once in a while, you need to just be reminded, make it real clear where the out-of-bounds marker is," said supporter Roy Ragland, R-Marshall. "And the Constitution sets that out fairly clearly and we just need to stop and think about some of the things being done and remember that we do have a Constitution and part of that is the 10th Amendment."

The resolution would serve "notice and demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effectively immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope" of powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution.

Rep. Steve Harrelson, an attorney from Texarkana, questioned what he called the "cavalier language" in the resolution.

"What exactly are we serving notice for?" asked Harrelson, a Democrat. "If they don't stop unfunded mandates the same unfunded mandates that we pass on down to school boards and city boards on a daily basis in the state Capitol if they don't stop these unfunded mandates, what are we going to do?"

Bill supporter Jon Woods of Springdale responded, "All I'm doing is standing up for the common person who wants their voice to be heard."

The resolution, which needed 11 votes to passed, failed on an 8-10 vote. A similar resolution failed Wednesday in the New Hampshire House.

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