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A Seat in the House

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A Seat in the House

The state's role in trade agreements

The tenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Given federal government activities that expand federal government power, many state legislators are becoming increasingly concerned with the diminishment of state sovereignty as a result of the expansion of federal power and the impact on the balance between state and federal authority.

One of the areas in question is federal trade policy. Many state legislators are discovering that state legislative and regulatory authority has been diminished by past trade agreements that they were not aware of. Congress has also lost much of its constitutional authority over trade policy by delegating trade policy to executive branch officials.

One example of congressional delegation of this authority is known as “Fast Track,” developed under the Nixon administration. Fast Track provided an immense amount of executive authority in establishing international trade agreements with “no role whatsoever for states, even when matters under their direct jurisdiction are at issue.” This trade policy has resulted in trade agreements “that delve deeply into state regulatory authority to which states are obligated to comply despite having given no consent.”

The Fast Track trade authority expired in 2007 and Congressional members are looking at a new trade negotiation policy and state legislators and other state officials are requesting involvement in the federal debate on trade policy.

Public Citizen, a national consumer advocacy organization, has held several conference calls with state legislators interested in trade policy and has surveyed legislators in all 50 states asking for their opinions on how cooperation on development of trade policy between states and the federal government could be improved.

The Public Citizen survey indicated overwhelming support from the legislators survey on a number of trade policy reforms. This support included:

• 92 percent support for an “opt-in” mechanism that allows states to determine their commitments to trade pact regulatory constraints.

• 86 percent support for a new advisory committee on which every state has its own representatives chosen by the state.

• 74 percent support for a mechanism to withdraw states from existing trade agreement obligations limiting non-trade regulatory space when state polices are challenged in trade tribunals.

• 78 percent support for establishment of “Readiness Criteria” to determine with which countries U.S. trade agreements are negotiated.

Because of my past involvement in the National Conference of State Legislatures Working Group on Energy and Trade Policy, I have participated in several of the conference calls hosted by Public Citizen in order to keep informed on trade policy and trade agreements that impact Idaho.

I believe that it is in Idaho’s best interest to be involved in the negotiations on trade policy with Congress. Federal trade policy impacts Idaho’s trade opportunities and we need to be involved in a process that will result in improved trade policy that “respects federalism and states’ rights to regulate”.

The holiday season has arrived and to our River Journal readers my “Best wishes to you and yours this Holiday Season!”

The legislative session begins January 11 and as we head toward the session I welcome your input on issues important to you. My home phone is 208-265-0123 and my mailing address is P.O. Box 112, Dover, 83825.

Thanks for reading! George

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Rep. George Eskridge Rep. George Eskridge the Republican Representative for District 1 in Idaho’s House, George Eskridge can be reached at 208-265-0123 or write PO Box 112, Dover, ID 83825

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