Article I of the United States Constitution grants Congress exclusive power to write federal laws. This structure allows the American people to hold their elected representatives accountable for the policy decisions they make. Over the years, however, Congress has increasingly ceded power to the executive branch by allowing agencies run by unelected bureaucrats to implement regulations that have the force and effect of law.
In 2016 alone, the Obama Administration published nearly 4,000 new regulations. Compared to the number of laws passed by Congress in the same year, that averages out to 18 regulations for every new law. Aside from the constitutional concerns, these regulations have a significant negative impact on the American economy. When factoring in the federal intervention, uncertainty, wealth destruction, job loss, and overall stifling of entrepreneurship, the 2016 cost of regulations was $1.89 trillion, or nearly $15,000 per household. It is time for Congress to reclaim ownership of its privilege and responsibility to write the laws for our nation. The American people must no longer suffer at the hands of unaccountable federal officials.
During the early months of the 115th Congress, the House and the Senate used the Congressional Review Act to overturn 14 regulations implemented in the waning days of the Obama Administration. It is estimated that the repeal of these rules alone could save the economy millions of hours of paperwork, as much as $3.7 billion in regulatory costs to federal agencies, and up to $35 billion in compliance costs for industry.
We made an excellent start to rolling back the regulatory state, but it absolutely should not end our efforts. My main priority while in Congress is to restore the constitutional parameters of the federal government, including ending overregulation. With that in mind, each Friday, I will highlight a freedom-killing regulation that is currently in effect. Check back here each week for updates and follow along in the “Freedom Fridays” section of my newsletter. If you do not already receive my newsletter, you can sign up here.
FREEDOM FRIDAY – California’s anti-trucking regulations need to hit the road
For this Freedom Friday, I’m highlighting burdensome and unconstitutional California regulations on our trucking industry.
Defending F4A Preemption in the Trucking Industry
Over twenty years ago, as Congress was considering legislation to scale back the patchwork of burdensome state regulations in the domestic airline industry, many Representatives agreed that the domestic trucking industry was due for regulatory relief as well. As a result, a provision was included in the 1994 Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (“F4A”) creating uniform federal standards for the trucking industry, similar to those in the airline industry. This change alleviated much of the burden on motor carriers to comply with the disparate standards in every state. Based on Congress’ authority under Article I Section 8 of the Constitution to regulate interstate commerce, the F4A provision prohibits states from enforcing any law “related to” a motor carrier’s “price, route, or service…with respect to the transportation of property.” In short, federal law overrules the authority of state motor carrier laws—or, to use the legal terminology, it “preempts” it.
Not surprisingly, the preemption provision was challenged in 2014 in California, where state law requires far more stringent meal and rest break standards—commonly referred to as “hours-of-service” regulations—than those established pursuant to F4A .The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over California and eight other states, including Arizona, made a ludicrously narrow determination in Dilts v. Penske Logistics that because California’s meal and rest rules do not pertain directly to the “price, route, or service” clause of federal law, they are not preempted. Unfortunately, although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in similar cases that the “related to” language in F4A has “broad pre-emptive purpose,” it declined to hear an appeal of the Dilts case, leaving the Ninth Circuit’s ruling to stand. Truckers from Arizona and elsewhere will continue to be forced to conform their operations to California’s overly-stringent trucking regulations every time they cross the state line.
While I am a strong proponent of states’ rights, there are a handful of issues over which Congress has clear constitutional authority. In the coming weeks, I will be supporting legislation offered by Representative Jeff Denham (R-CA) that further clarifies the right of the federal government to set uniform standards for truckers across the country. We simply cannot allow our vital interstate commerce to fall victim to an incoherent patchwork of burdensome regulations: our economic and national security depend on resisting this ominous trend.
What People Are Saying:
“California’s regulatory overreach is hurting the Arizona trucking industry and the customers who depend on our services. We must have uniform national standards, and I commend Congressman Biggs and his colleagues in the House of Representatives for highlighting this issue and hope that their efforts at reform will be successful.” – Dave Berry, Vice President, Swift Transportation Corporation
Check back here each week for updates and follow along in the “Freedom Fridays” section of my newsletter. If you do not already receive my newsletter, you can sign up here.