Careful Balance: States’ Rights And Federal Power

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Here’s a sampling of some of the controversial issues in the news today: Wisconsin is entangled in protests over what status public sector unions should have in that state; the owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant say the federal government, not the State of Vermont, has the right to decide the plant’s future; President Obama suggested to the National Governor’s Association that states should develop health care systems to compliment the federal law; and for more than a decade, states have been debating their own approaches to the question of same-sex unions.

All of these issues are underpinned by federalism: the carefully crafted balance of power between the state and federal government. And while "federalism" may be a word that conjures dusty text books and vague memories of 8th grade history class, it’s the cornerstone of some of the most compelling and divisive debates we have about modern issues. We explore the sometimes contentious arguments over states’ rights, and federal power with Bert Johnson, professor of political science at Middlebury College.

Also in the program, the sweeping budget cuts New Hampshire Governor John Lynch has proposed to close a $600 and 800 million shortfall. Valley News political editor John Gregg explains the proposal, which includes reduced funding for school infrastructure, hospital payments, and shrinking the overall number of state workers.

And in Plymouth, a summer camp takes advantage of winter by filling an old-fashioned ice house to preserve food all summer long. VPR’s Samantha Fields visited the recent ice hauling weekend at a Farm & Wilderness camp.

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