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Wilson says attorneys find bill rejecting federal laws illegal

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Posted: Friday, March 1, 2013 12:17 am

FAIRBANKS — A few weeks back, I wrote about the bill by Rep. Tammie Wilson that would make it illegal for the state to comply with federal laws until certain conditions are met.

When I questioned the constitutionality of the measure, Wilson said attorneys had concluded it was constitutional. She would not provide the names of the attorneys when I asked.

I told her I couldn’t imagine that it would be legal.

The bill said, “The state may not comply with a federal law, regulation or presidential executive order until the appropriate branch or agency of the federal government provides to the applicable state agency, to the governor, and to the Legislature a written description of (1) how the compliance with the federal law, regulation or presidential executive order will be accomplished; and (2) the economic effect of the federal law, regulation or presidential executive order will have on each community affected by the federal law, regulation or presidential executive order.”

“HB 34 has been determined to be constitutional by our attorneys,” Wilson wrote Jan. 22 when I asked her about the constitutional question.

“This bill simply requires the state to obtain certain information before implementation. It is the responsibility of the state to understand the economic effect of a federal law, regulation, or presidential executive order will have on each community affected. Furthermore, the legislature should know how compliance can be obtained.”

I concluded that column by speculating that the attorneys who said this is legal are “the same ones who told Rep. Mike Chenault, who introduced a bill co-sponsored by Wilson, that the state can slap the handcuffs on federal agents who try to enforce federal gun laws.”

It turned out that legislative attorneys said Chenault’s bill was unconstitutional.

To complete the circle, Wilson told the House Judiciary Committee recently that legislative attorneys also concluded that her bill is unconstitutional.

Regarding her earlier statement, she stated Thursday in an email that it “was my understanding through a telephone conversation that the original bill as amended was constitutional.”

The new version of the bill says that if the federal government does not come up with the requested analysis in 90 days, the state will do it instead and pay for it.

She told the committee she still supports her original bill and believes in it, “but somehow legal has convinced me that it is illegal and we can’t do that.”

Wilson said, “we would still ask the federal government to be able to show us the economics on any type of new federal program, how it would affect us economically as a state, as well as down to a community. If they do not do it, then it would be up to the state agency, most impacted, to do able to do that.

Regarding the original bill, the Office of Management and Budget said compliance costs would be “substantial.”

“The executive branch is unable to quantify the fiscal costs of the bill, but they are expected to be substantial. In addition to the cost impact from the loss of federal funding, we anticipate increased costs of negotiations with the federal government, costs from changes in program administration, and costly legal actions,” the state said.

The new version would still have a substantial cost as it would prohibit the state from accepting federal money to implement a new law, regulation or executive order until a report on the costs is completed and sent to the Legislature.


LOCAL HONORS: The Girl Scouts have named the Women of Distinction for 2013 — Sue Hull, Patty Mongold and Connie Parks-Karl.

The banquet will be held on May 2 in the Westmark Gold Room. Tickets will go on sale at the Girl Scout office on March 1 and cost $90 each. Tables of 10 also are available.

Dermot Cole can be reached at or 459-7530. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMdermot.

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