The Florida legislature will consider an intrastate commerce bill in its 2012 session.

Last week, Rep. Matt Caldwell (R-Fort Meyers) introduced HB 554, and Sen. Greg Evers (R-Pensacola) submitted a companion bill in the Senate (SB 814).

The legislation, “Provides that certain goods grown, manufactured, or made in this state and services performed in this state are not subject to authority of U.S. Congress under its constitutional power to regulate commerce; prohibits any official, agent, or employee of Federal Government or of state from attempting to enforce federal laws, rules, or regulations in violation of act; provides for application.”

Caldwell said Tenth Amendment Center model legislation inspired the bill. A similar proposal was introduced as a memorial in the last legislative session, but with a Senate sponsor signing on, the bill will move forward as statutory legislation in 2012. If passed, the law will have “teeth” making it possible to charge any agent attempting to enforce federal laws on intrastate activity with a third degree felony.

Caldwell told the Florida Independent that he sees the legislation as an important tool for keeping federal power within its proper sphere.

“This is critical,” he said. “The federal government is too large in its size and scope. I think this bill will provide more of a chance of precipitating a re-look at federal powers.”

Florida Tenth Amendment Center director Andrew Nappi said the law would not only check federal power, it would serve as fuel for the Sunshine State’s employment engine.

“This is more than simply a reiteration of the framers’ and ratifiers’ intended federalism. This is a jobs bill,” he said. “Think of incandescent bulbs alone. As the general government makes this wonderful invention illegal, the possibility of a cottage industry supplying Florida with these efficient lights could create hundreds of good paying manufacturing jobs. Just pick an area where the general government has killed employment and this is a way to get some of those jobs back.”

Intrastate commerce acts find their roots in the Tenth Amendment, which leaves all powers not delegated to the federal government to the states and the people. While Article 1 Sec. 8 grants Congress power to regulate interstate commerce, it does not extend that authority to commercial activity kept strictly within a state’s borders. And while the federal government has expanded the scope of the commerce clause, asserting it has the power to regulate any economic activity that substantially affects interstate commerce, this stretches the intent of the framers far past the breaking point. The power was simply intended to allow Congress to make trade “regular” between the states, in essence preventing one state from imposing tariffs or otherwise hindering free trade across state lines. It was never intended to allow the federal government to prohibit activities, or regulate manufacturing and agriculture.

James Madison explained the limits of the commerce clause.

“It is very certain that [the commerce clause] grew out of the abuse of the power by the importing States in taxing the non-importing, and was intended as a negative and preventive provision against injustice among the States themselves, rather than as a power to be used for the positive purposes of the General Government.”


Intrastate Commerce Act – full model legislation can be found here ( Please send to your state legislators and urge them to introduce.

Track the progress of the Intrastate Commerce Act here.

Mike Maharrey

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



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