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State’s Rights and International Trade: A Legislator’s Guide

A Legislator’s Guide to Reinvigorating Federalism and Preserving Policy Space in the Era of Globalization

By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

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With this Legislator’s Guide, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division has condensed all of the information state officials need to know about the problems today’s trade pacts pose to states’ rights and policy space. It also explains how to reinvigorate federalism in the era of globalization, so that the United States can gain the benefits of trade without unnecessarily sacrificing our democratic policymaking systems. While law and policies under local jurisdiction are also frequently implicated in trade agreements, for brevity’s sake this Guide will highlight challenges to state laws and opportunities for state officials to act.

The Introduction to this Guide provides context for why state officials’ day-to-day effectiveness is inhibited by today’s trade agreement policymaking and an update on the current state of play. The first three sections of this Guide focus on how trade agreements’ procurement, service-sector and investment rules can limit state policymakers’ regulatory options. We also include information about the many creative ways in which states have worked to simultaneously promote increased trade and preserve their policy options.