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Dow Jones News Service | 07/16/1998

Executive Order On Federalism Stirs State-Local Ire
By Alex Keto and John Connor
(Copyright (c) 1998, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--Stung by state and local complaints of insensitivity to federalism concerns and lack of consultation, the White House is poised to delay the implementation of an executive order on federalism.

The executive order in question was issued without any fanfare in May, with an Aug. 14 effective date. The order sets forth conditions when federal preemption and intervention is justified. The order requires federal agencies to have a process for getting state and local input in developing regulatory policies, but itself was issued without any such consultation.

State and local government groups became aware of the order only belatedly. But they went ballistic after they digested its contents, viewing it as a significant step backward in terms of the ever-evolving relationship between the federal, state and local levels of government.

For instance, the National League of Cities told its members that the order 'would rewrite the distribution and balance of power away from the direction established under the last three presidents' and revoke earlier commitments to oppose unfunded federal mandates and federal preemption and replace them with 'expanded guidelines and justifications for preempting historic and traditional municipal authority.'

Representatives of the so-called Big Seven state and local organizations - groups representing governors, state legislators, mayors and other municipal officials, and county officials - personally registered their complaints at a White House meeting earlier this week, and urged that implementation of the order be delayed to allow for consultation.

A draft letter prepared by the groups said in part that 'we believe the new executive order calls into question fundamental principles of federalism. We are concerned that all references to the 10th Amendment, identification of new costs or burdens, and reductions of mandates are revoked.'

The uproar is seen as ironic by some state and local representatives since President Clinton, a former long-term governor of Arkansas, came to Washington promising to be especially sensitive to the concerns of states and localities.

In any event, White House Spokesman Barry Toiv told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday that 'because of the concerns raised by state and local officials about the process that was used...and over some language in the executive order , the president's advisors are going to recommend to him that he delay the implementation of the executive order to provide time for a review to determine whether revisions are appropriate.'

Toiv said Clinton would, in fact, accept the recommendation to delay implementation of the order , but would make no promises on the order being revised.

Toiv said there will be 'thorough consultations as this process moves forward.'

-By Alex Keto and John Connor; 202-862-9200.


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