30.4 Limit Mandates


No future mandate shall be imposed upon the States or subdivisions thereof without their consent.

Proposed Language:

Congress shall have no power, after the adoption of this amendment, to impose an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments or entities by which they do business without their written consent or to discriminate against them in the provision of federal assistance, financial or otherwise, because they refuse to consent.


When a citizen queries elected leaders from states down to county commissioners, he will find one of their greatest objections is the mandates imposed upon them by the federal government. These mandates require local governments to spend money to achieve policy goals established by Congress without their consent. Not only is this unfair as a practical matter, but it also denies the people the diversity of decision making intended by federalism, prevents the states from planning themselves and denies them the ability to predict the financial consequences of their own decisions. 

Congress itself has recognized this problem by adopting the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, designed to end the imposition, in the absence of full consideration by Congress, of federal mandates on State governments without adequate federal funding in a manner that displaces other state governmental priorities. This law has been helpful (see Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997)), though we are reminded that Congress could repeal it at any time. This insult to the power and responsibility of state and local governments needs to be brought to an end. Because there currently exist mandates of the sort to be prohibited, we have provided that the amendment be limited to future mandates. Existing mandates can be continued or repealed as determined by Congress.