Powers of State Government

Powers of State Government

(FreedomBeacon.com) – The 10th Amendment of the Constitution specifically separates powers between the national government and individual states. This is an important distinction; without it, the national government would have the ability to make decisions for states without their direct input. But what exactly are these powers, and where do specific lines of power lie?

State-Specific Powers

State governments primarily have the right to take actions that affect citizens within their own jurisdiction. However, the exact interpretation of what’s included under this umbrella varies and may be influenced by the situation at hand. Powers considered inalienable and always available to the state, regardless of the scenario, generally include:

  • The right to issue licenses (e.g., driver’s license)
  • The right to conduct elections for locally-based officials
  • The right to determine regulations for intrastate businesses
  • The right to take measures necessary to protect public health
  • The right to establish local governments and associated services

States also have access to powers that allow them to have a say on issues that may impact the entire country. For example, they can ratify constitutional amendments — in fact, two-thirds of all states must do so to enact an amendment. State governments also reserve the right to take advantage of any other power not specifically limited to the national government within the Constitution.

Rights Not Allocated to the State

Just as state governments have access to certain inalienable powers, so, too, does the national government. States cannot:

  • Declare war against another country
  • Establish their own postal offices
  • Print their own money or create their own currency
  • Conduct foreign policy on behalf of the entire country
  • Limit or otherwise regulate international trade
  • Create and maintain their own army/military
  • Make new laws that allow for any disallowed power

These powers are expressly limited to the national government within the Constitution. The national government may, at their discretion, involve states in these processes to a limited degree. For example, the national government might ask states to take certain actions during wartime.

Certain powers may be shared between the national and state government. These may affect only individuals living within a certain state, or they may influence the overall population. For example, both entities can collect taxes, establish courts, make and enforce certain laws, build roads, spend money for the welfare of the general public, or purchase private property for the good of the public (e.g., to build a new overpass).

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