WASHINGTON D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Rob Bishop said Thursday they are co-sponsoring an amendment to the Constitution that would allow states to repeal laws and regulations implemented by the federal government.
The amendment has to be approved by two-thirds of both houses of Congress and ratified by three-fourths of the states to become law.
The amendment reads: "Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed."
Bishop and Hatch were joined in announcing the proposal Thursday by Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both Republicans from Wyoming.
In a statement released by his office, Hatch said, "This common-sense amendment would empower the states by giving them the means of overturning costly and burdensome federal regulations and requirements that has fundamentally altered our federal system of government."
Bishop said Thursday that his purpose in filing the amendment is to bring back a balance that he feels the authors of the Constitution intended.
"Their solution was a check-and-balance system, horizontally between the three branches of government," he said. "But equally important was a check-and-balance between the national and state level."
Bishop said the Founding Fathers did address that in the 10th Amendment, which reserves powers to the states not given to the federal government, but which he said "has been significantly eroded in the last 50 years primarily by money and the growth of government."
What the amendment would do, he said, is "try to bring back that concept, so it has nothing to do with states rights, nothing to do with the Civil War or nullification. This is about balance, so if two-thirds of the states say a law or regulation coming from one of the agencies, or a mandate is egregious to the state, it will be automatically reconsidered."
Bishop said the amendment is non-political because it would equally impact laws no matter which party is in control of Congress.
Bishop said some bills that might be subject to state action under his amendment include "No Child Left Behind," ethanol subsidies, wildlands proposals, and any other law that brings a question of state versus federal control.
Bishop said getting two-thirds of the states to agree to anything is a very high bar to reach, but he said just the existence of such an amendment would force the federal government to think more carefully about laws that impact the states.
Hatch, in his statement, said the amendment would "address the layers of federal bureaucracy that are wasting resources, hurting job creation, and wasting limited resources. This constitutional amendment would provide states with a constitutionally protected way to remove the most egregious rules, regulations and laws from the books."