National Governors Association Chooses Alexander for First-Ever “James Madison Award” for His Commitment to Federalism

Posted on February 22, 2016

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2016 – The National Governors Association (NGA) chose U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) for its first-ever James Madison Award for his commitment to federalism and for his work passing legislation fixing No Child Left Behind. Alexander said the new law “restores to states, communities and teachers the responsibility for improving student achievement.”

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, chairman of the NGA, said, “Sen. Lamar Alexander exemplifies the true spirit of federalism. His experience as a governor, cabinet secretary and now as senator inform his current work, which has empowered states to find solutions and improve lives. Sen. Alexander’s work epitomizes the type of cooperative federalism the founding fathers envisioned and governors expect.” 

Alexander said, “I am grateful for the governors’ award, but I should be honoring the governors for leading the bipartisan fight to reverse the trend toward a national school board. As a senator, I now know for certain what I said while I was governor: You don't get any wiser or more caring by flying to Washington, D.C., each week. The right way to fix No Child Left Behind was to pass the bill that The Wall Street Journal said was the ‘largest devolution of federal control to states in a quarter-century.’ Now we can work together to improve schools state by state, community by community, classroom by classroom.”

The James Madison Award recognizes a prominent public figure for advancing the principles of federalism and strengthening state-federal collaboration, according to the NGA. The award will be given annually by the NGA chair.

In addition to Sen. Alexander’s work in education, the NGA cited Alexander’s dedication to federalism through his support of the Marketplace Fairness Act, legislation that Alexander said “recognizes states’ authority to collect the state sales taxes that are already owed from everybody who owes them, including people who buy from out-of-state sellers.”  

In 2013, Alexander was given the “Restoring the Balance Award” by the National Conference of State Legislatures for his commitment to defending the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, which embodies the concept of federalism by recognizing states’ authority on all issues not specifically given to the federal government by the Constitution.

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