John Buntin is a GOVERNING staff writer. He covers health care, public safety and urban affairs.E-mail: email@example.com
It's going to be a big week for state and local government. Just minutes ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling in a 5-4 decision that declared that the federal Constitution's Second Amendment right to bear arms applies with equal force to state governments as well. Already, the Chicago city council is scrambling to come up with regulation less restrictive than the original 1982 one that completely banned handguns. Mayor Daley is now talking up the possibility of a gun registry... (And you thought conservatives were opposed to foisting federal rights on the states!)
Then, later today, the Senate will take up the confirmation of Elena Kagan, who will almost certainly be confirmed to the Supreme Court, who will almost certainly play a pivotal role in reshaping state-federal relations, and whose actual thinking about such subjects will almost certainly not come out in the hearings. (An example of what Kagan could opine on: Yesterday, the Supreme Court said it would take up the case of Arizona's immigration law.)
By the end of the week, we'll all need a break from Supreme Court coverage. Fortunately, this Thursday is the date that one of health reform's first provisions, insurance pools for high-risk sick people priced out of the privary market, are scheduled to go live. Thirty states have somehow managed to launch pools, others haven't. Republican Senator Mike Enzi, R-Utah, is already criticizing the Department of Health and Human Services for missing its 90-day deadline, which passed last week but HHS allowed states to start pools this week to coincide with the beginning of states' fiscal years. (Although shouldn't Enzi, as an opponent of health reform, be pleased?)
You think being late is bad? Last week, federal officials revealed that funding for the $5 billion set aside to pay for these high risk pools will run out in 2013, a year before subsidised state-run health insurance exchanges go live. But that's a problem for later. Let's get through this week first.
From regulations to spending, the federal government can be a huge thorn in the sides of state and local governments. Written by Ryan Holeywell, GOVERNING FedWatch monitors all the money spent and all the mandates required by the federal government that effect states and localities.