February 2016 Newsletter

  • Governor Abbott’s ‘Texas Plan’ – What Will Come of It?
  • Guldenschch Article V Progress Reports Available Again
  • Center for Public Integrity Releases Report on Article V Efforts
  • Can the US Debt Growth Be Stopped?
  • Convention of States Project Moving Full Steam in 2016
  • BBA Task Force Updates Its Web Site, Works on Final 7
  • US Term Limits Effort Gains Support in Florida’s House
  • Developments in Other Article V Movements
  • Constitutional Literacy Seminar Set for Colorado
  • Article V Caucus Opens New Facebook Site

Governor Abbott’s ‘Texas Plan’ – What Will Come of It?
In mid-January, at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 14thAnnual Policy Orientation for the Texas legislature, Texas Governor Greg Abbott unveiled what he calls the “Texas Plan”.  It is a package of nine proposed Constitutional amendments which he suggests can come about through the use of provisions in Article V of the US Constitution.  The actual “Plan” is set forth in 70 pages, followed by 22 pages of extensive documentation and notes.

Every state legislator who is interested in Article V should read Gov. Abbott’s plan.

The questions that immediately arise are: Will Gov. Abbott personally lead the efforts needed to implement this large task?  Will he assemble a team to make it happen?  Will he organize the kind of campaign that will be necessary to get the Texas legislature and at least 33 other state legislatures to support his plan?

Contrary to some reports, the Texas Plan does not directly support or endorse any existing Article V movements.  The Convention of States Project (CoS) reports that Abbott is endorsing the CoS effort.  CoS leader Michael Farris said of Abbott’s plan, “His nine proposed amendments exactly align with ours.”  The Texas Plan only calls for one of the three planks of the CoS multi-plank proposal (for instance it does not call for Congressional or “federal officials” term limits), and actually calls for eight additional amendments, some of which MAY be beyond the scope of the CoS effort.

Whenever a proposal emerges to use Article V to call a convention of states to propose amendments, the question of “aggregation” always comes up.  For instance, will a state-adopted resolution calling for a convention to deal with Abbott’s list of proposals “aggregate” with any existing applications for an Article V convention?

The Texas Plan proposal does not include a sample resolution or bill that Abbott hopes the Texas legislature will adopt a year from now (the Texas legislature meets every other year)… in the hopes that other states will follow.  Will it be a single resolution packaging all nine of his proposals together?  Or, will it be nine separate application resolutions, some of which might aggregate with applications developed by other Article V efforts?  If the Texas legislature chooses to adopt nine individual applications, some states may choose to support some, but not all of Abbott’s proposals.

The proposal has already generated considerable news and commentary coverage in a variety of media across the US.  The Weekly Standard included a very good review of Abbott’s proposal (read it HERE), but was incorrectly entitled “A New Constitutional Convention?”

Governor Abbott and his “Texas Plan” are worth watching.  At the very least he has helped turn up the spotlight on the potential powers embedded in Article V.  The “Texas Plan”, entitled “Restoring the Rule of Law with States Leading the Way”, can be read and/or downloaded HERE.

Prior to becoming Governor, Abbott was the longest serving attorney general (12 years) in Texas.  He also served for 6 years as a justice on the Supreme Court of Texas, and as a state district court judge.

Guldenschch Article V Progress Reports Available Again –
Now that state legislative sessions are again underway, Article V activist and Georgia attorney David Guldenschch has resumed publishing his periodic “Article V Convention Legislative Progress Report”.  Started during 2015 as a monthly “tracker”, Guldenschch will now produce his helpful chart twice monthly, and will be regularly available at http://articlevcaucus.com/.

This year’s version will also track Article V convention delegate selection/instruction bills and any rescission efforts.

Center for Public Integrity Report on Article V Efforts Released –
On Jan. 26 the NMPolitics.net blog site posted a story prepared by the Center for Public Integrity on current Article V efforts, written by Ashley Balcerzak.  Ms. Balcerzak’s piece is extensive, covers history of the Article V movement, and is reasonably objective.

The piece reports that during 2015 state legislative sessions approximately 190 Article V-related bills were introduced in 45 states.  It also notes that such bills were adopted in at least seven states last year.

Although the story repeats the inaccurate label of “Constitutional Convention” for an Article V convention, it is otherwise reasonably accurate.  Read it HERE.

Can the US Debt Growth Be Stopped?
Lexington Books has just released a new book by Dr. Barry W. Poulson and John D. Merrifield, entitled “Can the Debt Growth Be Stopped?”  Dr. Poulson is emeritus professor of economics at the University of Colorado, and Dr. Merrifield is a professor of economics at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The two respected economists have examined how OEDC countries (particularly Switzerland and Sweden) responded to debt build-up during and after the great recession.  Their extensive studies have led the authors to identify fundamental changes that they recommend in US budget processes to get America on a path toward reduced national debt.

 “Merrifield and Poulson offer substantial insight into the reasons why countries find themselves with excessive deficits and debt.  By examining the successful debt control measures in Switzerland and Sweden, they provide a strong foundation for their own proposal to limit deficit spending and reduce the national debt,” says Randall G. Holcombe of Florida State University

The book can be found HERE.  To get a 30% discount, use the following code when ordering: LEX30AUTH16.

Convention of States Project Moving Full Steam in 2016 –
Starting the 2016 legislative year with four states already on board (Florida, Georgia, Alaska, and Alabama), the Convention of States Project (CoS) is currently active in 26 states (16 of which carried over from 2015), and is expecting to add 8 more during this legislative session.

Arizona – In this state both Senate and House committees approved the CoS proposal, enabling them to move forward for full floor votes.

Indiana – On Jan. 25 the Indiana Senate’s Civil Law Committee passed the CoS resolution (SJR14) on a vote of 6 to 1.

Illinois – HJR61 has been assigned to the House Rules Committee. The CoS resolution was filed with the bi-partisan support of Rep. Bob Pritchard and Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia

Kentucky – State Rep. Jim DeCesare and 3 co-sponsors filed the CoS measure as HJR44.

Missouri – CoS resolutions have been filed in the House (HCR 57, 64) and the Senate (SCR 44, 53).  The bills are sponsored by Rep. Burlison (HCR 57) and Rep. Moon (HCR 64).  The Senate sponsors are Sen. Schaefer (SCR 53) and Sen. Dixon (SCR 44).

New Hampshire – In this state Sen. Gary Daniels filed the CoS application as SCR4.

New Jersey – Assemblyman Michael Patrick​ Carroll has filed the CoS resolution as ACR84 and Senator Joseph Pennacchio filed the Senate version as SCR42.

New Mexico – In late January the NM House approved the CoS resolution on a 36 to 27 vote.

Tennessee – During January the House State Government Committee approved the CoS resolution under the leadership of Rep. Sheila Butt, sending it to the House floor.  Rep Butt reports that she has 57 co-sponsors in the House.  Only 50 votes are needed for passage.  The Tennessee Senate approved the bill (SJR67) 23 to 5 last year under the leadership of Senators Mike Bell, Mark Green, Ed Jackson, Jack Johnson, and John Stevens.

Virginia – During January the CoS proposal was filed as HJR3.

Washington – State Sen. Ann Rivers has filed the CoS resolution (SJM8016), putting it on track to be considered in Washington’s legislative session this year.

BBA Task Force Updates Its Web Site, Works on Final 7 –
The organization which is heading the drive for an Article V convention that is focused on proposing a balanced budget amendment has a newly updated Internet presence.  The new BBA Task Force web site now includes a history of the effort, and boasts educational documents and videos (under the “Learn” tab) to assist legislators and activists in their quest to craft a Constitutional amendment to save the American dream.

The group reports that so far 27 state legislatures have adopted resolutions calling for the Article V convention they seek, out of the 34 needed.  Current session BBA-related activity includes:

Kentucky, where on Jan. 14 Rep. Jim DeCesare filed the BBA bill as HCR 50.  When Rep. DeCesare was asked why he filed the measure, he responded, “At nearly $19 trillion in debt, Washington is bankrupting America and each tax-paying Kentuckian is on the hook for nearly $158,000.  If we hope to save the American dream for future generations, the states must use their power under Article V of the U.S Constitution in order to propose and ratify a balanced budget amendment.”

Virginia, where on Jan. 13 Sen. Emmett Hanger pre-filed SJR 42, and a week later Delegate Jim LeMunyon pre-filed HJR 90.  Delegate LeMunyon stated, “It’s clear that Congress will not act to stop the mindless accumulation of federal debt that future generations will have to pay.  That’s why states must step in to fix the problem.”

The group also has efforts underway during this session in Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming where Rep. Dan Laursen has announced that he will be co-sponsoring the BBA bill.

The newly reconstructed web site can be found at www.bba4usa.org/.

US Term Limits Effort Gains Support in Florida’s House –
The US Term Limits (USTL) drive is currently active in 12 states.  On January 26 the Florida House approved House Memorial 417 (sponsored by Rep. Larry Metz) to apply for an Article V convention with the sole agenda of proposing an amendment to the US Constitution to set a limit on the number of terms that a person may be elected as a member of the US House and Senate.

The same bill, identified as Senate Measure 630 (sponsored by Senator Aaron Bean) is currently waiting to get on the Senate calendar.  The effort is being led by Nick Tomboulides, Executive Director for USTL.  He can be reached at (202) 261-3532.  Their web sites are: www.TermLimitsConvention.com and www.TermLimits.org.

Of the states where this campaign is active, their resolution has also been filed in AK, GA, MO, SC, TN.  The group’s sample application resolution is available HERE.

Developments in Other Article V Efforts –
Compact for America (CfA) has its proposal in front of the Federalism and States’ Rights Committee of the Arizona House.  It is HB2457, scheduled for hearing on Feb. 3.  In Ohio the CfA bill, HB369, is scheduled to be heard in the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee on Feb 9.

Four states (Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi and North Dakota) have thus far adopted the CfA proposal.  The group has updated and revised its policy brief: “Article V 2.0: The Compact for a Balanced Budget!”  Find it HERE.

Wolf-PAC:  The Washington State Legislature will consider Senate Joint Memorial 8015, sponsored by Sen. Dean Takko, seeking an Article V convention aimed at overturning the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision.

In early January this group’s leader (Cenk Uygur of “the Young Turks”) issued a video announcing that it had surpassed its fundraising goals for December, allowing it to hire a group of new workers including three of “the guys who organized Occupy Wall Street”.  Click HERE for the Wolf-PAC web site.

Single Subject Amendment drive:  The Jan. 29 edition of Forbes included an opinion piece by George Leef entitled “Crimp Wasteful Federal Spending with This Constitutional Amendment”, pointing out that in most of the states, bills introduced in the legislature can only relate to a single subject.  The national legislature is not constrained by this good rule.

Leef laments this deficiency and reports that US Rep Love of Utah has introduced a bill that would limit Congressional bills to one subject.  Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is sponsoring the same bill in the Senate.  Unfortunately, the govtrack website puts the probability of passage for both bills at zero.  Read the article HERE.

Meanwhile, under the leadership of the Single Subject Amendment organization, the Florida legislature has adopted a resolution calling for an Article V convention on this topic, and the group is working to get other states to join the effort.  For more information, click HERE.

Constitutional Literacy Seminar Set for Colorado –
Saturday, Feb. 6 Constitutional attorneys Michael Ferris of the Convention of States Project and Jenny Ellis will present a free full-day seminar from 9 AM to 4:30 PM at Calvary Chapel South in Littleton, CO.  The event, entitled “Constitutional Literacy for Christians”, promises to explore several Constitutional issues and. provide attendees with tools needed for constitutional literacy

The two attorneys are offering to provide similar sessions in other parts of the country.  For more information, click HERE

Article V Caucus Opens New Facebook Site –
The 2½-year-old parent organization of this newsletter, the State Legislators’ Article V Caucus, has opened a new Facebook page to further its educational objectives.

The goal of the Caucus is to encourage state legislators to use the fifth Article of the US Constitution as a tool to re-establish federalism as America’s Founders intended, and limit the runaway growth of the Federal Government.

The new Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/articlevcaucus/  

Who said it?

“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it.
Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise
their constitutional right of amending it…
I will venture to add that to me the convention mode seems preferable,
in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves.”

Abraham Lincoln – an Article V Convention Advocate
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