Moore joins fight to limit unfunded federal mandates National effort
launched to restore strong state and local voices in federalism
BOSTON - Despite passage of a federal law in 1995 to make it more difficult
for the Congress to impose significant new costs on state and local
government, a number of significant new unfunded or under-funded federal
mandates have found their way onto the books. The Unfunded Mandates Reform
Act, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by Democrat Bill Clinton,
was not intended to prohibit new federal mandates, but to alert Congress and
the public to the burden imposed on other levels of government when such
laws are passed.
Since 2001, the federal government has passed such laws at "No Child Left
Behind" to reform public education, Internet pre-emption preventing states
from taxing Internet services, phase out of the federal estate tax, fire
protection laws, the "Help America Vote Act" reforming election
registration, the "Real ID Act" to standardize driver's licenses, and the
"Affordable Care Act" to expand access to affordable health care. The laws,
even when they were accompanied by some federal funding, added new costs and
duties to state and local governments and, ultimately, new costs to
However, a new effort to strengthen controls on mandates is being launched
by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the PEW
Foundation Charitable Trust, to expand the definition of what is covered by
the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act (UMRA) and to re-establish a mechanism for
communication among the federal, state, and local officials.
The Congress, under the leadership of Speaker Newt Gingrich, abolished the
Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) in 1996,
ostensibly to reduce the House budget, but in reality it was designed to
concentrate power in the Speaker's Office. The ACIR was originally
established in 1959 as a bipartisan, independent agency designed to
strengthen the American federal system and improve the ability of federal,
state, and local governments to work together cooperatively, efficiently,
and effectively. According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. is
the only major world economy that does not have a formal organization for
discussions among the levels of government.
This month NCSL and PEW convened state legislative leaders and experts on
the federal mandate issues in Washington, DC, to initiate a new look at the
issue of unfunded federal mandates. Massachusetts Senate President Pro
Tempore Richard T. Moore joined legislators from Alaska, Colorado, Georgia,
Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming to identify
research needed and next steps in an effort to provide more balance to the
American federal system.
"As a local official and past President of the Massachusetts Selectmen's
Association and, later, as a state representative, I worked to try to ease
the burden of state mandates on local government," Sen. Moore explained.
"Those efforts resulted in passage of a Massachusetts constitutional
amendment to limit the imposition of mandates dealing with local employees
as well as development of the Bureau of Local Mandates in the State
Auditor's Office," he added.
When Sen. Moore became an officer of NCSL, one of his priorities was to
address unfunded federal mandates. "The meeting in Washington, and this new
initiative to ease the burden of federal mandates, is, partly, in response
to the agenda I began as President of NCSL in 2010-2011, and I am pleased to
be part of this important national movement," Sen. Moore noted. No state
funds were used for the senator's travel to Washington, Moore's office
The gathering in Washington on unfunded federal mandates included experts on
the topic from the Government Accountability Office, the Congressional
Budget Office, the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of U.S.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and scholars from George Washington
University, George Mason University, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and the
IBM Center for the Business of Government.
For more information about Sen. Moore's work to limit unfunded mandates,
visit www.senatormoore.com, or follow him on Facebook
(www.facebook.com/senatormoore) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/SenDickMoore).