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States Condemn Federal Undermining of Local Laws

At their Spring national gathering, leaders of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) condemned increasing federal regulatory and legal restrictions on state authority in areas ranging from consumer protection to criminal law:
"Federal regulatory preemption is nothing more than a backdoor, underhanded means by which unelected federal bureaucrats impose their will on the states," [said] New York state Sen. Michael Balboni (R)... Lawmakers said they are seeing a rise in use of the federal regulatory process to override state laws. They pointed to a recent proposal by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration ...The proposed rule would preempt state laws that hold auto manufacturers to stricter liability standards and would give the auto industry immunity from state lawsuits seeking damages, while states carry the burden of supporting those who become permanently disabled and cannot recover their medical costs.
The NCSL produced a regulation "Preemption Monitor" to monitor this process of federal rules underming state powers. Its recent issue identified 72 bills pending in Congress that would undermine states' powers in areas ranging from criminal law to tort reform to the environment. As we noted last week, a prime example are attempts by conservative federal legislators to undermine state predatory lending laws, reflecting the hypocrisy of conservative groups who talk about "states rights" out of one side of their mouth, but then use federal power to stomp on any local porgressive legislation they dislike.