Federalism

By Samuel Gaston

On March 15, 2018 the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform marked up H.R. 50, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2017.  This legislation amends the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, or UMRA, signed by President Bill Clinton, which sought to improve the transparency...

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court denied Arizona’s petition for a writ of certiorari to review a 9th Circuit decision holding that the state must allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, documents to be sufficient to obtain driver’s licenses and state identification cards.

To obtain a driver’s license or state identification card...

CSG Midwest
With a case on federalism and the authority of states to allow for sports betting before the U.S. Supreme Court this term, several related bills have been introduced in capitols across the Midwest.

In its amicus brief in Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District v. SolarCity, the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) urges the Supreme Court to rule that a district court’s denial of state-action immunity to a state or local government is immediately appealable.

The state-action doctrine provides states and, in some instances, local governments immunity from federal antitrust liability.

In the mid-1800s Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest entered into treaties guaranteeing them a right to off-reservation fishing. In Washington v. United States the Supreme Court will decide whether the “fishing clause” guarantees “that the number of fish would always be sufficient to provide a ‘moderate living’ to the tribes.”

The “fishing clause” of the Stevens Treaties guaranteed “the right of taking fish, at all usual and accustomed grounds and stations . . . in common with all citizens of the Territory.” In 2001 the United States and a number of tribes sued Washington State claiming that it violated the treaty by building culverts that prevented salmon for reproducing leading to the salmon supply significantly plummeting.

The Supreme Court held 5-4 in Artis v. District of Columbia that “tolled” under 28 U.S.C 1367(d) means suspended or that the clock is stopped. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief arguing in favor of a different definition of “tolled.” Justice Ginsburg cited to the SLLC brief once in her majority opinion. Justice Gorsuch cited to it or discussed it four times in his dissenting opinion.   

A year after the fact, Stephanie Artis sued the District of Columbia in federal district court bringing a number of federal and state law claims related to her termination as a health inspector. It took the federal court over two and a half years to rule on her claims. It dismissed her sole federal claim and declined to exercise jurisdiction over her remaining state law claims.

28 U.S.C 1367(d) states that statutes of limitations for state law claims pending in federal court shall be “tolled” for a period of 30 days after they are dismissed (unless state law provides a longer tolling period).

The House of Representatives is set to vote today on H.R. 3017, the “Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017.” The legislation, sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), reauthorizes the EPA’s brownfields program which expired in 2006.

A brownfield is “a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant,...

Jim Ogsbury, executive director of the Western Governors' Association, brought webinar participants up to speed on the creation of the Western Policy Network. The network is an effort by a number of western organizations to improve the state consultation process with the federal government. Pete Obermueller, executive director of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association, will focused how his organization has attempted to improve the state consultation process as it applies directly to the local government level.

In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission the Supreme Court will decide whether Colorado's public accommodations law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, violates a cake artist’s First Amendment free speech and free exercise rights. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief supporting Colorado arguing that the Court should not create an exception to Colorado’s public accommodations law for wedding businesses. 

According to the National Council of State Legislatures, 21 other states have public accommodations laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Numerous local governments have adopted similar ordinances.

The Speaker’s Task Force on Intergovernmental Affairs, a bipartisan group of Congressional lawmakers met on October 12, to examine the historical development of federalism. Witnesses were Heather Gerken, Dean at Yale Law School, Timothy Conlan, Professor of Government at George Mason University, and Matthew Spalding, Associate Vice President and Dean of Educational Programs for Hillsdale College.

Pages