The L.A. Times' Mark Barabak reports on a new crop of grassroots measures -- most but not all of them in the West -- aimed at expanding the states' autonomy from the federal government. Here's an excerpt:
The Montana Firearms Freedom Act seeks to exempt from federal regulation any firearm, gun component or ammunition made and kept within the state's borders. The legislation, signed by Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, becomes law Oct. 1, though federal officials will likely act quickly to keep the measure from taking effect.
Legal experts are skeptical Montana will prevail in court, and even some proponents express their doubts. But supporters say the fight is a necessary step to change Washington's attitude. Similar bills have been introduced in nearly a half dozen states, and lawmakers in about a dozen more have expressed interest.
"We need 15, 25, 30 states to pass these types of legislation, so that we send a clear message to the country and to the national government," said Utah Rep. Carl Wimmer, a Republican from suburban Salt Lake City.
In addition to supporting a version of Montana's gun law, Wimmer is drafting legislation that would forbid local authorities to help enforce federal statutes inside Utah -- another bill that, if passed, would surely trigger a court fight.
Some elements of the trend, such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry's refusal to accept a portion of Washington's stimulus money, are just a Republican reaction to a Democratic presidency. But as Schweitzer's support for the Montana gun bill suggests, this isn't a purely partisan phenomenon; there's a continuity between these rebellions and the Bush-era state and local revolts against Real ID, the PATRIOT Act, and No Child Left Behind. I'm curious how many of the lefties who supported the rebellions against Bush's diktats are sticking with the states' rights position now, and how many are fickle federalists in the Rick Perry tradition.
For a broader, more visionary look at the prospects for a more decentralized America, I recommend Paul Starobin's essay from last Saturday's Wall Street Journal, "Divided We Stand."