The 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution states that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." This has led to many different interpretations; however, there are several powers and responsibilities that are generally considered to belong to state government.

Local Powers

Powers that do not belong to the federal government belong to state and local governments. Creating local governments is one of the powers of state government. Many of the other local functions are controlled by the state. For example, the state controls education, makes state law, employs law enforcement, builds highways and freeways, makes marriage laws and controls elections, which includes elections for the local and federal offices.


The federal government has the power to regulate interstate commerce, which is trade between states, and international commerce. States have the power to regulate intrastate commerce, meaning business conducted within the state. States also have the power to establish banks and collect taxes. In addition to overseeing business, the states also have responsibility for issuing licenses, often with the assistance of state boards, such as a bar association for licensing lawyers.

Shared Powers

Some powers are shared between the state and the federal government. Collecting taxes and establishing banks are both powers that are granted to both the federal and state governments. The federal government also has the power to build roads, which is usually done in cooperation with state governments. Both state governments and the federal government have the right to take private property for public purposes, so long as the owner is compensated. They both have the power to make and enact laws, and spend money to promote the general welfare.


States are granted any powers not specifically granted to the federal government under the U.S. Constitution. This power does have limits though. No state can make a law that is found to be contrary to the United States Constitution, including the Bill of Rights and other amendments to the Constitution. State laws that are found to be unconstitutional are automatically nullified. Additionally, state governments have the power to introduce Constitutional amendments. In order for them to become part of the Constitution, the amendments would have to be ratified by two-thirds of all other state governments, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, and then signed by the President; however, amendments can begin at the state government level.