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Governors' Chief Calls for Cutback in Federal Power

July 28, 1987|Associated Press

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The new chief of the nation's governors called today for a major push to reverse "a drastic over-centralization of power in Washington," possibly including a constitutional amendment to strengthen states' rights.

New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, a Republican elevated to chairman of the National Governors Assn. at the conclusion of a four-day annual meeting, immediately decried what he said was an erosion of authority of the states.

Sununu said he would make the federalism issue his agenda for his one-year term as chairman and was naming a task force to consider whether the governors should propose laws to change the balance of power "or even suggestions for a federal constitutional amendment."

He said one possible change would be an amendment to allow actions by two-thirds of the states to overrule federal law, or another strengthening state authority in the 10th Amendment, which grants to the states those powers not apportioned elsewhere in the Constitution.

Referring to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia, he said: "Unfortunately, the planned balance between the states and the federal government that came out of Philadelphia has, over the years, been tilted to a drastic over-centralization of power in Washington.

"There has been a constant erosion, a steady nibbling, if you will, by the federal government, through Congress and the federal courts, at the delicate relationship so carefully framed."

He said his concern was restraints on the states in conducting programs and services, and he cited the federal speed limit as one example.

Before ending its 79th annual meeting, the National Governors' Assn., as expected, approved unanimously a policy statement calling on the federal government to spend more on AIDS education, prevention and testing. (Details of the proposal, Page 15.)

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