The old Florida capitol (Pic by Diligent Terrier, via Wikimedia Commons)

State Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Fort Meyers, and Sen. Greg Evers, R-Pensacola, are together attempting to curb the power and scope of the federal government.

Caldwell’s House Bill 553, the “Intrastate Commerce Act,” ”provides that certain goods grown, manufactured, or made in this state and services performed in this state are not subject to authority of U.S. Congress under its constitutional power to regulate commerce,” according to the bill’s summary.

The bill is strikingly similar to model legislation that goes by the same name and was created by the Tenth Amendment Center. According to the organization’s website, it is “a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism.”

“The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power as required by the Constitution,” the group’s site says.

The summary of the group’s model legislation reads:

Provides that all goods grown, manufactured or made in (STATE) and all services performed in (STATE), when such goods or services are sold, maintained, or retained in (STATE), shall not be subject to the authority of the Congress of the United States under its constitutional power to regulate commerce.

Caldwell tells The Florida Independent the group’s model legislation “inspired him” and helped him write his own bill, but he says he has been interested in the topic for years.

The lawmaker introduced a similar bill last year. According to Caldwell, that bill was only introduced as a memorial. This year, because he was able to pick up a Senate sponsor (Evers), the bill will be “statutory.”

“This is critical,” Caldwell says. “The federal government is too large in its size and scope. I think this bill will provide more of a chance of precipitating a re-look at federal powers.”

The Intrastate Commerce Act not only removes the federal government from the regulation of intrastate commerce; it also says that “any official, agent, or employee of the Federal Government or any employee of an entity providing services to the Federal Government who attempts to enforce any federal law, rule, or regulation in violation of this section commits a felony of the third degree.”

Caldwell says laws such as the Intrastate Commerce Act “have been regularly discussed in conservative circles.”

Caldwell has also introduced a memorial entitled “Sovereignty of the State.” The memorial “urges Congress to discontinue its practice of imposing federal mandates and legislation upon states which exceed scope of its constitutionally delegated powers under Tenth Amendment to U.S. Constitution and to repeal all existing compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply or requires states to pass specific legislation in order not to lose federal funding.”

Caldwell’s memorial reads:

Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

That the Congress of the United States is urged to discontinue its current practice of imposing federal mandates  and legislation upon the states which exceed the scope of its constitutionally delegated powers under the Tenth Amendment to Constitution of the United States.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Congress is also urged to repeal all existing compulsory federal legislation that directs the states to comply or requires the states to pass specific legislation in order not to lose federal funding.

Evers, Caldwell’s co-sponsor on the Intrastate Commerce bill, has also introduced a memorial: the “Exercise of Federal Power.”

Similar to Caldwell’s memorial, it “urges Congress to honor the provisions of the Constitution of the United States and United States Supreme Court case law which limit the scope and exercise of federal power.”

The memorial reads:

Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

That the Legislature claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the Federal Government by the Constitution of the United States.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this memorial serves as a notice and a demand to the Federal Government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, from issuing mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.

Caldwell says he is “aware people would say this is a waste of time.” However, he feels the role of the federal government is a “central issue.”

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