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Obama May Quickly Reverse Bush Attacks on State Policy Authority

Progressive States Network has regularly detailed the mounting attacks on and preemption of state policy by the federal government in recent years.  The incoming Obama administration is signalling that many of the Bush-era regulations restricting states may be reversed.  A few examples include:

  • Allowing California and other states to regulate global warming emissions from cars:  Criticizing Bush's denial of California's ability to establish "clean car" regulations to reduce automobile emissions, Obama earlier this year said that, "[g]iven the failure of this administration to act [on global warming], California should be allowed to pioneer."  Seventeen other states, representing 45 percent of the national auto market, have promised to adopt California's rules.
  • Expanding SCHIP to more children:  As a US Senator, Obama supported a $35 billion expansion of SCHIP, which would have allowed states to override Bush regulations and extend health coverage to more children.
  • Protecting State Consumer Regulatory Power:  The Wall Street Journal is up in arms (which is a good sign) that Obama is considering appointing David Frederick as Solicitor General -- ie. the administration's main advocate before the Supreme Court.  Frederick is currently the lawyer representing plaintiffs in a case to challenge the Food and Drug Administration's attempt to preempt state consumer liability laws where the FDA has given approval of a drug, so appointing Frederick would be a sign that Obama expects to protect state authority on consumer protection.   
  • Allowing States Receiving Federal Funds to Research New Lines of Stem Cells:  Obama has indicated he will reverse the federal restrictions on such research by programs.

The hope is that these are just the beginning of restoring state authority on a range of areas to restore the states as a full partner with the federal government in promoting public health, protecting labor rights, and promoting corporate accountability.