JACKSON, Miss. (May 20, 2016) – A financial transparency bill signed into law by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant will shine the spotlight on state funding used to help enforce federal laws or implement federal programs. It could ultimately set the stage to end state involvement in such federal actions.

Sen. Eugene Clarke (R-Hollandale) sponsored Senate Bill 2387 (SB2387). Mississippi for Liberty reported on the bill, saying it builds on transparency legislation passed last year requiring state agencies to report on all sources of revenue. The new provision specifically addresses state funds spent to enforce federal efforts.

“This measure requires agencies to provide the Joint Legislative Budget Committee with Maintenance of Effort agreements entered into with the federal government. A maintenance of effort agreement is a cost-sharing or grant agreement between a state agency and a federal agency that commits state resources to assist in enforcing federal laws or implementing federal programs.”

Both houses of the Mississippi legislature unanimously passed SB2387. The Senate approved the measure 51-0, and the House passed the bill 119-0.

The new law will ultimately reveal the cost of state cooperation with the federal government.

Oftentimes, state and local agencies do the bidding of the federal government utilizing state resources in relative secrecy. For example, as we recently reported, the Glendale, Ariz., police department loans officers to the ATF. It remains unclear exactly how many of these types of agreements exist in Mississippi. With passage of this legislation, we soon will.

SB2387 will shine a light on such spending and cooperation in Mississippi. By making the public aware of just how much money and manpower the state expends working for the feds, it could create a strong enough backlash to end such cooperation.

Any state action to enforce federal law, or implement federal programs, is strictly voluntary. A legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine establishes that the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce any federal act or program. It rests primarily on four Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. The 1997 case, Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone.

“We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.”

Mike Maharrey

The 10th Amendment

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