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Legislative Report District 13: Federalism – the states and renewed interest in a limited federal government

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By Rep. Kim Koppelman

When our Founding Fathers created a new nation, they established a new experiment in self-government. It involved states (previously colonies) with strong and unspecified power and a limited national (federal) government with specified, limited authority. The concept was called federalism.

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Some say that this was a quaint idea, in its time, but that it’s a thing of the past. They understand that the federal government has grown much larger and stronger than originally intended and that the states’ authority has diminished and that’s just fine with them.

They even opine that the idea of a limited federal government and state sovereignty are things of the past and that the times have passed such ideas by. In fact, they say, such an idea couldn’t even work, with today’s technology, communication, transportation and interaction. A strong, national government where states are its mere subdivisions is just the way it is, and should be, according to them. It’s what our country has become and there’s no looking back.

Others don’t see it that way.

They never have, and they believe that now is the time to reassert the vision of the founders and the principles enshrined in the Constitution. To fail to do so, they fear, may spell the demise of our nation, as we know it.

Many believe that our federal government has simply grown too large, too powerful, too unwieldy, and too fiscally irresponsible to work or be trusted. They point to examples like an out of control federal debt and the dismal record of the federal government’s record of taking over more and more of what used to rest with the private sector or with states—the most recent example being the health care debacle.

Such debates have long been at the core of political and civics discourse, but something is changing, today. Concerns are stronger, urgency is growing and in some quarters alarm is not too strong a word for the reaction to what’s going on in Washington. Simply stated, they see America’s former greatness slipping away.

Restoring federalism is becoming a national focus of state leaders, across the political spectrum. The Council of State Governments (CSG), the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) all have current focuses on federalism. Its restoration, many believe, is the only hope for our future and the only way to restore the nation we’ve known, throughout our history.

Many are currently mulling and discussing what states can do to reign in an out-of-control federal government and bring America back from the brink. These are interesting times and statesmen throughout the nation are demonstrating their patriotism. Their love for our nation should inspire and give us all hope for the future.

Your District 13 Legislators appreciate hearing from you. . You may reach us by mail, e-mail, or telephone: Sen. Judy Lee (jlee@nd.gov; 282-6512); Rep. Alon Wieland (awieland@nd.gov; 282-9470); Rep. Kim Koppelman (kkoppelman@nd.gov; 282-9267). You may also check us out on Facebook at West Fargo Legislators. If you’d like to receive these updates by email, send me an email (kkoppelman@nd.gov).

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