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GOP legislators pushing state's rights amendment to state constitution

  • Article by: BOB VON STERNBERG
  • Star Tribune
  • April 23, 2010 - 11:24 AM

Several Republican legislators have renewed their push for state sovereignty over the federal government.

Three GOP senators introduced a bill this week that would require a two-thirds vote in both houses of the legislature before any federal law could become binding in Minnesota.

A companion bill, also sponsored by was introduced last month in the House.

One of that bill's three sponsors is Rep. Tom Emmer, a Delano lawmaker running for governor who has long been pushing for state's rights.

The new bills go beyond a legislation Emmer introduced last year that would guarantee Minnesotans the right to choose private health care insurance, a pre-emptive strike against the new federal health care law. It didn't pass.

The current bills would place a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

Voters would be asked: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to affirm the sovereignty of Minnesota citizens by requiring two-thirds legislative approval before a federal law becomes effective in Minnesota, and by ensuring the right of citizens to seek redress for any alleged violation of constitutional rights?"

The bills are an example of a broader legislative trend being pushed by conservatives in several states, invoking the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The so-called Tenther movement has embraced the doctrine of nullification, which holds that under the amendment, states have the right to invalidate any federal law state officials deem to be unconstitutional.

Similar bills are currently being pushed in at least five other states, according to the Tenth Amendment Center.

Legislators in 18 other states are considering non-binding resolutions pushing state's rights, in addition to the seven where resolutions were approved in 2009.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty flirted with the Tenthers last fall when he suggested that "asserting the 10th Amendment" might allow Minnesota and other states to sidestep federally-imposed changes to the health care system. He quickly backed off.

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