State Rep. Paul Opsommer (R-DeWitt) announced today that with HJR YY and SJR Y not making it onto the ballot that he would be introducing a statutory version of the federalism bills as a backup to keep the issue moving.

“It is disappointing that we could not get this needed law onto the ballot, especially with what a bad year it has been for federal overreach,” said Opsommer. “But based on the events of this week it is now more clear than ever that the Legislature needs a better way to enforce the 10th Amendment.”

HJR YY is designed to create a new joint commission on federalism as a way to allow states an expedited process for addressing potentially unconstitutional laws that come out of Washington. It would also help the Legislature get a handle on the many so called “Memorandums of Understanding” and “Memorandums of Agreement” that state agencies are entering into with the federal government without legislative oversight. Opsommer said that such agreements were proliferating and pointed to the Enhanced Driver’s License MOA as a prime example of how the bureaucratic agreements are being used to skirt legislative intent.

“Right now there are many officials responding to people’s dislike for REAL ID by stating that they are opposed to it and would not allow the law to be enacted here,” said Opsommer. “The reality is that Michigan has already signed on to meet all REAL ID benchmarks through the backdoor when the Memorandum of Agreement for Enhanced Driver’s Licenses was signed. The validity for such an agreement should go right out the window because it represents such a clear violation of legislative intent. But right now we have few checks and balances to correct these agreements, and unless our next Secretary of State rescinds it, the agreement will continue to, in my opinion, illegally carry the force of law.”

HJR YY contains a provision to validate the language of such MOAs before they go into effect. Opsommer pointed to research he had conducted that shows no one in state government knows exactly how many MOAs have been entered into and what they contain, yet they have the force of law despite having no basis in Michigan statute. Many are not available to the public online, and there is no central repository for them.

Opsommer also pointed to his new bill HB 6208, which would prohibit a Secretary of State from entering into further MOAs such as the international license compact known as the Driver’s License Agreement (DLA).

“The job of Secretary of State has always been more complex than many people realize, but it has increasingly become about so much more than election laws,” said Opsommer. “Our next Secretary of State is going to be on the frontlines of either fighting or acquiescing to major proposed federal changes with our licenses, use of RFID, and automated tolling and ticketing by cameras. It is an important office that I respect, but I don’t think it should be allowed to unilaterally enter us into agreements like it did with REAL ID.”

Opsommer said that the statutory version of HJR YY will be ready by the end of the month, and that HB 6208 has already been assigned to the transportation committee.


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