Statement on Signing the Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1985

November 13, 1985

Today I have signed S. 1570, the ``Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1985.'' This law once again permits State and local governments and their employees the flexibility to serve their citizens effectively. It is the culmination of a vigorous effort by State and local governments, their employees, and a bipartisan coalition in the Congress. All these efforts have had the strong support of my administration. While this law does not fully restore State and local governments to the position they held prior to the Supreme Court's decision in Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, it does recognize, in significant measure, their special burdens, responsibilities, and character.

Without this legislation, the cost of services that State and local governments provide -- police, firefighters, and other services necessary to the success of any community -- would have increased by as much as $3 billion per year. The new law provides important relief to State and local governments, their employees, and all American taxpayers. The law contains an effective date of April 15, 1986, eliminating the unexpected back pay liability for overtime pay dating from the court's decision. It enables all State and local governments to accept offers of voluntary service from civic-minded citizens, and it allows the continuation of a longstanding practice by legitimizing the use of compensatory time as a substitute for cash in paying overtime hours.

Although real improvement has been brought about by this legislation, I believe the constitutional principles of federalism must be recognized so that limits are placed on Federal regulation of State and local governments in a manner consistent with their special status in our system of government. In this and in other regards, federalism will remain a major priority of my administration.

I commend all those officials and workers in State and local governments and all those in the Congress who worked to secure this much-needed legislative success. Secretary of Labor William Brock; Attorney General Edwin Meese III; Senators Orrin Hatch, Don Nickles, Howard Metzenbaum, and Pete Wilson; Representatives Gus Hawkins, Jim Jeffords, Austin Murphy, Tom Petri, and Steve Bartlett all provided essential leadership. I am especially grateful to Senator Nickles, whose early leadership and hard work were essential to the enactment of the legislation.

Note: The President signed the bill at 2:30 p.m. at a ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House. S. 1570, approved November 13, was assigned Public Law No. 99 - 150.