It's called state sovereignty -- the "right," under the 9th and 10th Amendements of states to do what they want in areas not specifically delineated to the federal government in the Constitution. I think the best summary can be found on the Republic of Dave:
The emergence of this movement is a hopeful sign of the people asserting their rights and the rights of the states and finally crying “enough” to runaway government. With the threat of increasingly out of control federal spending, some of these sovereignty bills may stand a fair chance of passage in the coming year.I'm not going to bore you with a lot of details, but I'll let you make a lot of your own decisions about this sort of thing. And you can check the follow ups here and here.
There’s a lot of excitement about these bills, but there are also a lot of misconceptions, with people claiming that some states have already declared sovereignty and that the movement is much farther along than it really is. Contrary to popular rumor, none of the states has actually enacted a sovereignty law yet. Some have come close. Oklahoma’s bill passed their lower house overwhelmingly but stalled in the Senate last fall and is being held over for consideration in the new year.
Contrary to the fantasies of some extremists, these sovereignty bills are not the first step towards secession or splitting up the union, nor are they an effort to block collection of the income tax, appealing though that might be. For the most part, they are not so much political statements of independence as they are expressions of fiscal authority directed specifically at the growing cost of unfunded mandates being placed upon the states by the federal government. Despite the movement picking up steam as he came to office, the target of these bills is not President Obama, but rather the Democrat-dominated Congress whose plans for massive bailouts and expanded social programs are likely to come at an enormous cost to the states.
It has become increasingly common for Congress to pass legislation which dictates policy to the states, but which comes without adequate federal funding and the expectation that the cost of these programs, which the states had no real say in approving, will come out of state budgets. This has been a long-term problem with Medicaid and Medicare, but the unfunded mandate which stirred up the most ire recently was the No Child Left Behind program. More concern has been raised with the recent reauthorization and expansion of the SCHIP program which has a history of requiring more expenditure than is provided for in the federal budget.
I mean, I'm sorta confused seeing as how No Child Left Behind was six years ago in 2003, but whatever.
IMHO, these are just political moves in an attempt to rally the base of right wingers and Republicans in this country around something more substantial (and more popular) than gay marriage. Seeing as how the gay marriage battle is starting to tip in our direction (slowly, but it's still getting there), they've decided to back up and fight the Civil War again. They say it's not like the Nullification Crisis of 1832 (be careful citing anything from SC politics in the mid 1800s), but it's kinda feels that way, doesn't it?
Federal government bad, therefore we are going to assert our rights as states. Next thing you know, we'll be seceding if you don't listen to us.
How do I know it's political? Because chief proponent of the Oklahoma bill -- State Senator Randy Brogdon -- is not shy about telling us that they have a Democratic governor -- the commie, homo-loving son of a gun -- that will be forced to sign it or face the wrath of his constituents. Oh, and btw, did I mention that he may want to run for Governor in 2010? Twenty bucks the backers of these bills -- in all twenty-some-odd states that have them or will propose them -- are mentioned as "up and comers" in the Republican Party? (And some southern Democrats.)
Oh, and of course, it took the Democrats in the White House and in Congress to make people care about the encroaching power of the federal government. We can take away people's civil liberties and wage silly wars for 8 years, oh and discuss absurdities like the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, but the minute we try to fix the economy (maybe foolhardily) by stimulating growth and infrastructure... well, that's just too much.
And the drum beat of the Confederacy beats on.
Seriously, folks, we figured this problem out in the 1860s, and then again in the 1930s and 1940s. Federal government=good. States=deny rights and cause slavery and destroy the economy. I thought we'd been over this once before?