December 2015 Newsletter

  • ALEC Task Force Will Consider Article V Convention Rules
  • U.S. Term Limits AV Campaign Starting to Move Forward
  • Natelson AV Blogs Posted at Washington Post Site
  • House Clerk Posting of AV Applications Slowly Proceeding
  • CoS Posts ‘Thank You, Mark Levin!’ Video on YouTube
  • BBA Group Partners with NFIB & Tea Party Express
  • Act 2, Scene 2 – A Good Idea Refined
  • Dr. Carson Supports Returning Federal Lands to States
  • Single Subject Drive Gets New Advisory Board Chairman
  • Donations Welcomed… But a BBA is the Real Answer

ALEC Task Force Considers Model Article V Convention Rules –
The early December ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) conference in Scottsdale, AZ drew about 800 attendees.  The subject of using the powers of Article V was woven into several parts of the 3-day meeting.

Two key speakers, former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (OK) and presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson both spoke of their support for state-led Article V conventions to obtain constitutional amendments.

Recommended rules and procedures for such a convention have been on the minds of many state legislators.  Since the two-year-old Assembly of State Legislatures has yet to formally adopt a complete set of recommended rules, some legislators and Article V activists used the ALEC confab to discuss the possibility that ALEC might adopt a set of model rules.

Michael Bowman the VP for Policy at ALEC confirmed that a specific proposal for model Article V convention rules was submitted to the ALEC Federalism Task Force, but it did not make the deadline for consideration at the Scottsdale event.  However ALEC Federalism Task Force Director Carla Jones reports that on Friday, December 18 the Task Force will hold a teleconference to consider the proposal.  If the Task Force agrees to the proposal, it will be submitted to the ALEC Board (composed of state legislators) for formal adoption.

Article V Term Limits Group Gathering Steam – 
Several representatives from U.S. Term Limits (USTL) were present at the early December ALEC Convention and States and Nation Policy Summit, promoting their Article V proposal to state legislators.  At the summit, USTL President Philip Blumel introduced the USTL proposal to ALEC’s Federalism Task Force as suggested model policy for the nation.

Nick Tomboulides, Executive Director for USTL reports that two bi-partisan legislative committees in the Florida legislature have voted to support the USTL proposal.  He believes Florida will be the first state to adopt a resolution seeking a convention of the states to propose a term limits constitutional amendment in early 2016.

Regarding the recent Florida votes, Tomboulides reports, “Democrat and Republican legislators joined together to make it happen.  We aren’t stopping in Florida, of course. We’re targeting 12 other states next year as part of the plan to reach 34 calls, which triggers the Convention.”

The USTL campaign now has its own activism website at www.TermLimitsConvention.com.   The group’s main web site is: www.TermLimits.org as a research and information hub for the campaign.

Natelson Article V Blogs Posted at Washington Post Site –
Article V expert Rob Natelson is currently posting a series of brief tutorials on Article V as a guest blogger at a Washington Post blog site.  The December 8 posting, How the Founders inserted the amendments convention into the Constitution can be read HERE.  The December 9 posting, How the states have used conventions and the amendment process to promote reform can be read HERE.

House Clerk Posting of Article V Applications Proceeds Slowly –
The January 2015 edition of this newsletter reported on an amendment to the U.S. House of Representatives Rules dealing with Article V applications, initiated by U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers’ (OH).  The rule creates a system for the U.S. House to track, document and count the number of incoming Article V convention petitions from state legislatures.  Prior to the rule update, no formal process for cataloging the petitions existed.

The rule creates a process for the intake of Article V applications through the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and gives the Clerk’s Office the responsibility of making the applications electronically available and organized by state of origin and year of receipt.

Gathering of the existing applications has been slow since January.  While Article V activists know that a large number of valid Article V applications exist, as of this month the Clerk’s web site http://clerk.house.gov/legislative/memorials.aspx only lists 20 Article V applications from 14 states.

The posted Article V documents include one that rescinds an earlier BBA application and 9 new BBA applications (out of the 27 that are believed to be currently valid).  Also included are 3 applications for the Convention of States proposal, 3 for the Wolf-PAC proposal, 1 for the Single Subject proposal, and 1 for the Madison Amendment proposal.  There are also 2 applications for a proposal that would prohibit Congress from increasing federal debt without the prior approval of a majority of state legislatures.

When asked about the slow/incomplete postings of Article V applications, Scott Rogers of the BBA Task Force said, “We are working the Judiciary Committee on this issue. The count is going slower than we would like, but it is moving along. So far, what is on the website is not the full count, just what they have published.”

CoS Posts ‘Thank You, Mark Levin!’ Video on YouTube –
On November 30 Citizens for Self-Governance, the group behind the Convention of States (CoS) movement, posted a new video on YouTube that thanks Mark Levin for his book, The Liberty Amendments, a book wherein he lays the intellectual foundation for an Article V convention of states.

In the video Levin says his efforts are aimed at “re-establishing Constitutional republicanism.”  The video implies that Levin’s book was the impetus for starting the CoS movement.  Levin’s book was not released until mid-2013.  Mike Farris, the prime mover behind the CoS movement was already traveling around the country talking about his proposal very early in 2013.  No doubt the two talked and shared ideas well before the book went to the division of Simon & Schuster that published the book.

Levin’s book is clearly supportive of the CoS effort (and all Article V movements) because it stresses use of the Constitutional tool embodied in Article V.  Unfortunately, Levin’s book gives equal emphasis to a long laundry list of suggested Constitutional amendments.  It took the leadership of Michael Farris (soon augmented by former Tea Party leader Mark Meckler) to give focus to what became known as the Convention of States Project… an effort “to re-establish the Constitution and the liberty that flows from it”.

The CoS group reports that it is poised to shepherd its Article V proposal through several state legislatures during 2016 sessions.  For more information about CoS, click HERE.
To view the “Thank You, Mark Levin!” video, click HERE.

Also, see a 3-minute video of a series of brief interviews with Article V expert Rob Natelson, and related follow-up videos posted by CoS, click HERE.

BBA Group Partners with NFIB & Tea Party Express –
The BBA Task Force is currently working with leaders of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the Tea Party Express to conduct legislator education events in West Virginia in early February.

The joint venture will seek to make legislators aware of the Article V process and the need for a U.S. Balanced Budget Agreement.  Reportedly the groups will also combine forces for similar efforts in other target states early in 2016 legislative sessions, including Idaho and Wyoming.

The BBA effort currently counts 27 state applications on file toward the 34 needed to trigger a BBA-focused Article V convention of the states.  For more information about the BBA Task Force, click HERE.

Act 2, Scene 2 – A Good Idea Refined –
The March 2015 edition of this newsletter reported that retired Colorado business executive Frank Keeney and his wife Carol had privately initiated the “Act 2 Movement”, an effort to correct what they see as an American government that is in serious disarray.

This month the couple released what might be called “Act 2 – Scene 2”, an update of their concepts.  The Act 2 Reform Blueprint is aimed at “Repairing our republic, restoring the dream”.  It is available in booklet form and on their totally new web site: www.Act2Movement.org.

While the effort is not currently part of any Article V movement, it is believed that ultimately use of Article V will be needed to implement the excellent ideas embodied in the Act 2 proposals.

One of their proposals is the creation of a fourth branch of federal government… what they call “The Democracy Branch… a sanctuary where key government functions are shielded from partisan meddling… empowered to discipline the bureaucracy… moving many functions beyond the political reach of the President and Congress… supervised by a panel of state governors, thus rendering it independent of the federal government.”

For a copy of their booklet/proposal, contact the Keeneys at: FWKeeney@gmail.com.

Dr. Carson Supports Returning Federal Lands to States –
On November 29, while visiting with the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson talked about the vast amounts of federally-owned land in the western states.  He said, “I would advocate for turning (over) of the land to the states.”  

His comments came after a briefing on public lands issues in Nevada where more than 80 percent of land is federally-controlled by agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service.

The American Lands Council (ALC) is working in Nevada and several western states to get federal lands turned over to the states for “more effective local care and management”.  The group points out that in 1829 90% of Missouri land was federally-controlled.  After a 30-year battle in that era, U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton (D-MO) managed to get a bill through Congress transferring the bulk of federal lands to Missouri, but he admitted that his 30 years of speeches “had more effect upon the public mind than upon the federal legislation…”

Right now, fully half of all real estate from Colorado to the west is under the control of a distant, unaccountable federal bureaucracy.  Less than 5% of all land east of Colorado is federally controlled.  ALC contends that treating western states unequally, or holding them “in a different condition from other States” as Senator Benton phrased it, is unfair, and hurts not just these western states, but also the nation as a whole.

In Arizona, on Dec. 7 the Superintendent of Public Instruction and several state legislators gathered to request the transfer of federal lands to the State of Arizona for long term education funding.

Superintendent Douglas said, “The federal government currently owns nearly half of land in Arizona and loses 27 cents for every dollar they spend on land management, a loss to the taxpayers of approximately $2 billion per year.” States, on the other hand, generate on average  $14.51 for every dollar they spend on managing public lands.

“There is absolutely no reason to waste all of this land when it could provide critical revenues for Arizona education,” Douglas said.  “When it comes to today’s western states, the federal government has refused to honor the same promise made and kept with all other states east of Colorado,” said AZ Rep. Mark Finchem.  “Our state has a proven track record of maximizing the land we do control, so it makes no sense to allow mismanagement of these resources.”

While this is not currently a movement that seeks to use Article V, one day, once other movements have demonstrated that Article V is the tool for states to use to force a higher level of federalism, the provisions of Article V may well be used to correct this injustice

Read the Review Journal interview HERE.
For more information about the American Lands Council click HERE.

Single Subject Drive Gets New Advisory Board Chair –
The Single Subject Amendment movement has announced that Peter Schweizer is now the Chairman of its Board of Advisors.  Schweizer is the president of the Government Accountability Institute and a bestselling author.  His most recent book is “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Help Make Bill and Hillary Rich”.

Started in early 2014, the Single Subject drive aims to force the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to limit all bills to a single subject.  In May of 2014 Florida became the first state to adopt an application for a Single Subject Amendment-focused Article V convention.

State governments (in 40+ states) generally prevent off-subject riders either by requiring bills to be single-subject, or giving governors the power to veto specific portions of a bill and approving the rest.

“Having someone as experienced as Peter (Schweizer) as the Chairman of our Board of Advisors is a real coup because of his knowledge of how the system of lawmaking in Washington is not working and needs tweaking,” said W. S. “Spider” Webb, CEO and founder of the Single Subject effort.

Mr. Webb can be reached at: spiderw@singlesubjectamendment.com. The group’s web site is at: http://singlesubjectamendment.com/.

Donations Welcomed… But a BBA is the Real Answer –
It was reported this past month that the U.S. Treasury Department received a record contribution of $2.2 million toward reducing the national debt.  Unfortunately, the unknown donor’s gift only covered the interest for a couple of minutes.

America’s current debt is near $18.5 trillion (and rising).  If each citizen donated about $58,000, the debt could be retired.  But, seeing as how Census data reports that the average American household income is $50,500, that’s not going to happen.  Besides, Congress seems dead set on increasing the national debt.

Most Americans recognize that to get the nation to stop spending more than it takes in, and start paying down the national debt, Congress will have to be forced to change its ways.  That’s why some form of Article V Constitutional amendment (such as the proposals from the BBA Task Force, Convention of States, and Compact for America) is essential.

Article V is not just
an alternative method of amending the Constitution.
It’s a fundamental statement of federalist principle:
the federal government is subservient to the States.
If the central government is deemed a threat to our freedom,
the States, through Article V, have a means of controlling it.
 – From The Reagan Project by Fritz Pettyjohn
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