Congressman Banks launches Hoosier federalism initiative

Congressman Jim Banks has announced the launch of the “Hoosier Federalism Initiative,” a new project he is leading to return power to states and promote federalism.

“During my time as a State Senator, I worked with Hoosier legislators to advance conservative ideas that have helped Indiana grow and prosper,” said Banks.

“I am proud of the work we did in Indiana, and the results speak for themselves. However, there is only so much that can be done at the state level. Our Founding Fathers saw the danger in centralizing power in one branch of government, and they designed a system that empowers our states to be laboratories of democracy. Unfortunately, we’ve moved away from that model and today Washington has too much power over the lives of every American citizen. We need to return power back to the states and promote federalism. I hope that the Hoosier Federalism Initiative will encourage more state legislators to contact Congress with their ideas on how we can empower our states.”

As part of the Hoosier Federalism Initiative, Banks has written to every member of the Indiana General Assembly and asked for ideas on how to improve the relationship between the federal government and the states.

The full text of the letter Rep. Banks sent to members of the Indiana General Assembly is below:

Dear Senator/House Member,

During my time as a State Senator, I worked with you to advance conservative ideas to help Indiana prosper. I am proud of the work we did, and the results speak for themselves. Indiana’s budget is consistently balanced and our state has $1.74 billion in reserves. We significantly lowered taxes on hardworking Hoosiers- including the largest income tax cut in state’s history and the elimination of the Death Tax. Record numbers of Hoosier families have access to the school of their choice through the nation’s largest school choice program.

Unfortunately, too often Washington D.C. is not an ally in these efforts. Intrusive federal mandates and rules prevent states like Indiana from implementing innovative solutions to some of our toughest problems. As you know, it was only through a cumbersome waiver process that HIP and HIP 2.0 became realities. States should not have to come hat-in-hand to the federal government to do what is best for their citizens. Justice Louis D. Brandeis once wrote, “It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” We need to revive this spirt of federalism and give states the flexibility they need to develop unique solutions to public policy problems.

This year, I have been fortunate to introduce legislation that I believe would accomplish these goals. The first would roll back a restrictive federal rule and allow Indiana to form public-private partnerships at interstate rest stops, with Indiana free to use the proceeds in whatever way best meets the state’s infrastructure needs. The second would give Indiana the ability to holistically finance early childhood education by block-granting federal Head Start dollars. Both of these ideas came from the Indiana statehouse, and both would provide positive results for Hoosiers by limiting federal overreach and returning power to the state.

These are the kinds of things we need to be doing in Washington. With this in mind, I am launching the Hoosier Federalism Initiative. This project will focus on working with you and your colleagues to find ways to give Indiana more autonomy to design policies that benefit Hoosiers by freeing the state from restrictive Washington mandates. Like you, I was once a state legislator with many ideas on how to make life better for Hoosiers. I often found that Washington rules made that task more difficult or even impossible. Because of this experience, I want to hear from you on where Indiana can be given more freedom to implement conservative reforms that will benefit our state. I want to be a conduit for you in the U.S. House of Representatives- a way to ensure that your ideas for returning power to Indiana and improving the lives of Hoosiers are given a voice. You are in the best position to know how Washington strings are holding back Indiana. I want you to send me ideas on how to remove these strings so that I can work with you to turn them into legislation in the 115th Congress.

In his inaugural address, President Reagan said, “All of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal Government.” President Reagan understood better than anyone the problems that come with concentrated power. The Hoosier Federalism Initiative is based on this simple truth: Washington does not have all the answers, and government that is closest to the people is the most effective, transparent and accountable. Please contact me at or 202-225-4436 to discuss any ideas you have on how to return more power and flexibility back to Indiana. I look forward to working together to roll back Washington mandates and give you the flexibility you need to continue Indiana’s success.