Model State and Local Resolution on Local Authority

Whereas, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is negotiating to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) among 34 nations of the Western Hemisphere, create bilateral agreements such as the U.S.-Chile agreement, expand the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), interpret the investment chapter of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and potentially to add an investment agreement under the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Whereas, these international negotiations include provisions on investment, procurement and trade in services, all of which serve to shift power away from state and local governments.

Whereas, investment agreements increase foreign investor rights allowing challenges to core functions of state and local government such as zoning, protection of ground water and other natural resources, corporate ownership of land and casinos, law enforcement by courts, and sovereign immunity.

Whereas, procurement agreements are based on the standard that government purchasing decisions should be limited to price, without considering state and local purchasing preferences including recycled content, small business, minority and women-owned business, vendors with a competent track record, and avoidance of goods made with forced child labor.

Whereas, agreements on trade in services set a standard that regulations must not be more burdensome to trade than necessary, which affects services that are traditionally provided or regulated by cities and states, including alcoholic beverages, construction, health facilities, insurance, sewerage, solid waste, and potentially, water and energy.

Whereas, serious concerns about these agreements have been raised by the National League of Cities, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of Counties and the National Association of Attorneys General.

Now, be it resolved, that Congress and the USTR should preserve the traditional powers of state and local governments as they negotiate and act upon international agreements by:

* carving out state and local governments from the scope of investment, services and procurement agreements, and

* where such carve out has not been achieved, assuring that such international rules do not deviate from traditional deference to state and local regulatory authority, and

* eliminating state and local regulation from GATS rules on Domestic Regulation and limiting application of those rules to specific commitments made by countries.

Be it further resolved, that [name of state] legislature should ["shall" if state resolution] create a select committee to assess the potential impact of international trade agreements on state and local governments and to keep abreast of negotiations in order to advise the USTR on safeguarding state and local authority.

And be it further resolved, that the USTR should not deny state and local officials access to negotiating documents necessary for such officials and their constituents to assess the potential impacts of such negotiations on their legitimate authority.

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