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House OKs sovereignty measure

BISMARCK -- The State House OK'd a resolution Tuesday affirming North Dakota's rights as a sovereign state after a debate that one member compared to pre-Civil War secessionist talk.

House Concurrent Resolution 3063 passed on a 52-42 vote. It invokes the U.S. Constitution's 10th Amendment, which says "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states, respectively, or to the people."

The resolution says Congress and the federal government have created mandates that violate the 10th Amendment. "In 2009 the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government... and many powers assumed by the federal government and federal mandates are directly in violation of the 10th Amendment."

In the resolution, the Legislature "demands the federal government halt its practice of assuming powers and imposing mandates upon the states" and "cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of constitutionally delegated powers and that all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed."

The prime sponsor is Rep. Craig Headland, R-Montpelier

House Minority Leader Merle Boucher, D-Rolette, opposed the resolution, saying it reads like secessionist language spouted by southern states 150 years ago. He wondered if he needed to check with his constituents back home to find out if there "is a secessionist effort going on."

Rep. Darrell Nottestad, R-Grand Forks, said members should decide before voting on HCR 3063 if the Legislature doesn't similarly enact unfair mandates on cities, counties and township.

Rep. Kim Koppelman, R-West Fargo, who supported the resolution, said there is a difference between what the state does to local governments and what the federal government does to the states, because the state government that created local governments.