Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sen. David Baria on unfunded mandates and animal cruelty legislation

Sen. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis

Sen. David Baria posted the following on his Clarion-Ledger blog yesterday:
Last week in the Mississippi Senate we passed Senate Bill 2127, making the malicious mistreatment or torture of an animal a felony crime. A companion measure, Senate Bill 2821, makes it a felony to mistreat, hurt or kill in a malicious manner any dog or cat. This legislation has passed the Senate several times only to die in the House. There is hope that this year one or both of these measures will become law. The opposition has worried that such a law would be broadly construed to apply to animals such as livestock. However, a careful reading of the bills demonstrates that the language cannot be made to apply to such animals.

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 2053, which will require drivers to show proof of liability insurance before being able to purchase automobile tags. I opposed this bill as tax collectors/assessors advised that it would create additional unfunded burdens and would eliminate online tag purchases. The recent immigration bill is another example of such an unfunded mandate the Senate wishes to impose on local governments requiring them to enforce federal immigration law.

However, the Senate did make clear that it is actually opposed to unfunded mandates last week when we passed a bill called "Restoring the 10th Amendment Study Committee." This bill creates a committee to study federal legislation to determine whether it creates an unfunded mandate or runs afoul of the constitution. The federal "No Child Left Behind" legislation was provided as an example of such an egregious unfunded mandate. The bill also allows for lawsuits against the federal government if the committee feels that the legislation is improper. Therefore, the Mississippi Senate apparently abhors unfunded mandates, unless we choose to create one.

You've gotta love Baria's wit in that last line.

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