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WASHINGTON — For some states, the message to the federal government is clear: Back off. Legislatures in Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota this year have approved resolutions asserting sovereignty under the 10th Amendment of the Constitution and suggesting that Uncle Sam "cease and desist" from interfering in their business.
The largely Republican backers say the federal government has overstepped its constitutional bounds by meddling in local matters ranging from education to drunken driving. "It's telling the federal government, 'Guys, you really need to back off,' " said Judy Burges, a GOP state representative who is sponsoring a sovereignty resolution in Arizona. Oklahoma's Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to a sovereignty resolution, in defiance of a veto from the state's Democratic governor, Brad Henry, on a similar measure. The resolution already passed the Oklahoma House twice.
Similar measures are under consideration in at least two dozen other states. State sovereignty efforts have won the endorsement of two GOP gubernatorial candidates, one of whom — Gov. Rick Perry, up for re-election next year in Texas— made headlines last month by suggesting the movement could lead to some states seceding.