Republicans will control both statehouses in 32 out of 50 states when state legislatures meet in 2017, and this does not include Nebraska which is unicameral and state candidates run as non-partisan. Of these 33 states, 25 have a Republican Governor, and in North Carolina the Governor can be overridden with a 60 percent majority, a margin the GOP enjoys in the statehouse.
If Donald Trump wants conservative leaning incubators for potential federal policy, he only has to look to the states and groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council for guidance.
In their current dominant position, statehouse Republicans need to take some bold but simple steps to reform the country one state at a time.
First off, they need to end the practice of the state government collecting public employee union dues. They don’t collect dues for the National Rifle Association, Chamber of Commerce or any other advocacy organization, so it is absurd for them to perform this function for the public employee unions which over the past couple of election cycles have collectively dumped tens of millions into political campaigns. It is time to let them collect their own dues.
Additionally, those states without non-arbitrary concealed handgun carry laws should adopt them along the lines of the current Florida model, but they should also help create a nationwide network for their citizens by recognizing concealed carry permits issued by other jurisdictions.
And they should take full advantage of this current state and federal government alignment to pursue every legal avenue available to cut the cord from the federal government. Whether it be working with the Jeff Sessions-run Justice Department to ensure that only legal citizens vote, or enter into agreements with the federal government to turn federal lands over to state and private control, or even undo some of the Obama-imposed environmental policy using the sue and settle scheme that the left has abused for years.
New Hampshire, Missouri and others might choose to pass right to work legislation ending big labor’s stranglehold in their states. Other states will be looking at increasing school choice options and with new allies at the U.S. Department of Education, strip out the national standards known as “common core.”
Virtually every state, regardless of political party in control will be dealing with Obamacare’s collapsing structure, its likely repeal, and resulting changes in the federal government Medicaid funding reimbursements. Presumably with the GOP in complete or partial control of 45 out of 50 state governments, how states handle any health care changes will likely take a much more conservative, limited government slant.
Taxes in all iterations are likely to come down some and similarly spending is likely to stabilize as belt tightening becomes the rule.
While most of the nation will be focusing on Donald Trump and Congress, it is at the state government level where the real action will be occurring. It is going to be a very interesting year with a unique time in history where the GOP will be able to put much of their rhetoric into action one state at a time.
Should be fun.
Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.