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1.8.1: Exclusive Powers of State Governments

In your posts concerning the Tenth Amendment and federalism a number of students asked about powers that belong to the states.

As a reminder, under the US system of federalism there is “dual sovereignty” – – both the federal government and state governments have the power to enact and enforce laws.

Some powers exclusively belong to the federal government.

For example, under Article I Section 8 of the US Constitution, the federal government may regulate interstate commerce. That is an exclusive power of the federal government. States cannot interfere with interstate commerce.

Some powers are shared – – these powers are known as “shared powers” or “concurrent powers”. An example of a concurrent power is the power to tax. Americans pay both federal and state taxes.

But there are powers that belong only to state governments. For example, only states can regulate purely intrastate commerce that has no effect on interstate commerce. Also, states issue their own driver’s licenses.

Vocabulary Review: