February 2018 Newsletter

  • This Newsletter Includes a Comprehensive Review of Article V Efforts One Month into 2018 Legislative Sessions

BUT FIRST…

  • New Book Debunks ‘We Don’t Know How Conventions Work’ Claim
  • Numerous Writers Express Support for a Constitutional BBA
  • Candidates for Federal Offices Promise Support for a BBA
  • First Guldenschuh Article V Progress Report of 2018

Book Debunks ‘We Don’t Know How Conventions Work’ Claim – 
A new book has just been released that sheds much needed light on the forgotten history of an American tradition: conventions of the states.  It is a must-read for legislators (state and federal) and by citizen activists who care about correcting the shortcomings of the federal government.The book, by retired business executive Michael Kapic, is titled “Conventions That Made America… A Brief History of Consensus Building”.  The 105-page book covers notable government-related conventions over the past 3+ centuries.  It is intended to be used by decision-makers and legislators with little reading time.Mike says “[T]he founders gifted us with a way to solve today’s problems when they installed Article V in the Constitution.  But they also assumed we’d still be using the vehicle of that era to implement it.  The problem is that most American’s today don’t know the long and storied history of our American problem-solving process.” He notes that “The tales of our conventions is not well known outside of the historical and scholarly community and not readily reachable or easily readable by the public.  That has resulted in patriots who recognize the country’s dilemma, but don’t understand that the method for fixing it has been used many times in our history.”

Michael Farris, co-founder of the Convention of States Project says, “This book is compiled from scholars and organizations original sources and shows the administration of the more notable conventions.  It attests to the validity of a tried, workable, and safe method for the people and their states to safe-guard their Constitutional government.”

Arizona State Representative Anthony Kern says, “Historical and informative, this book removes any doubt, fear, or confusion regarding the need to call for an Article V Convention.”

“Mike Kapic’s book thwarts one of the primary arguments against calling a convention: that we don’t know the rules and the process is uncertain,” says author and Constitutional lawyer Dustin Romney. “It demonstrates that we know the general rules and we know the process.”

Lauding the new book, Arizona State Representative and Majority Whip Kelly Townsend says, “One of our top priorities is educating the public, as well as government officials, about previous conventions that have taken place.”

This timely presentation allows the reader to quickly review America’s history of solving problems that federal legislatures and politicians could not.  This is the history of the origins of Article V and how the states can repair what’s broken in DC.  The author noted that, “It is time to bring back this genuine, proven, and safe American tradition so the people and their states can take control of their government again.”

The book is available in print and for Kindle from Hunt for Liberty by clicking HERE.

Numerous Writers Express Support for a Constitutional BBA –
Under the headline “Balanced Budget Amendment Needed Now”, respected syndicated columnist George Will makes a strong case that a Constitutionally-mandated federal fiscal restraint is critical.

He says, “The federal debt held by the public was 39 percent of GDP 10 years ago; it is 75 percent today. Before last month’s tax changes, the debt was projected to reach 91 percent in 10 years. No one knows if the tax changes will hasten this; no one should assume that they will not. No one knows at what percentage the debt’s deleterious effect on economic growth becomes severe; no sensible person doubts that there is such a point.”

His column was initially carried in the Washington Post, and was re-published in the Albany (NY) Democrat-Herald, The Mercury News (San Jose, CA), SouthCoast Today, (New Bedford, MA), The News-Banner (Bluffton, Indiana), and the Denver Post.  The entire column can be read HERE.

—-

The January 11 edition of National Review carried a recent speech by Christopher C. DeMuth, former president of the American Enterprise Institute.  DeMuth focused on the need for a balanced budget amendment.

He said, “For most of American history — from 1789 through the late 1960s — we did adhere to a balanced-budget rule through broad, bipartisan consensus.  Regular government operations were held to a balanced budget; borrowing was limited to wars, other emergencies, and investments such as territorial expansion and transportation; and incurred debts were paid down diligently.”

“But our now-gargantuan public debt is largely the result of routine borrowing for current consumption. This is certainly unsustainable and likely to lead to serious grief before long.  But it is also a big problem right now. It is corrupting the relationship between citizen and government, and it is leaving us poorly prepared to respond to big emergencies when they arrive, as inevitably they will.  American politics is at its best when responding to big, ambitious, unifying challenges.  I conceive of a campaign for a balanced-budget amendment as such a project — focused on public education about the perils of our current practices, and calling for a secular reawakening.”

Read DeMuth’s entire speech HERE.

—-

Heartland Institute’s staffer Jesse Hathaway wrote an op-ed piece for DailyCaller.com entitled “Here’s How State Legislators Can FINALLY Fix the National Debt In 2018”.

His prescription?  “This would best be accomplished with the passage of a state-led federal balanced budget amendment.”

Hathaway points out, “Although Congress seems content to merely talk about this problem, state lawmakers have the ability to fix Washington, DC, by forcing Congress to adopt an amendment mandating a balanced budget.  This would help restore state legislatures’ role as masters of the federal beast, putting people and the states back in charge of public servants in the national government.”

He says, “Congressional leaders have flirted with balanced budget amendments since 1936, but they have never succeeded, or even come close, to actually passing such a requirement using the normal top-down method.  But where the federal government has failed, state lawmakers have taken control in recent years, with many states choosing to pass legislation calling for an Article V convention.”  Read Hathaway’s article HERE.

—-

During January The Hill carried an op-ed by Jenny Beth Martin, chairman of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, entitled “A 2018 agenda for President Trump”.

Ms. Martin offered seven suggestions.  One of which was, “enact a balanced budget amendment: For too long, the federal government has had a spending problem…. It’s time to finally put some restraint on politicians in Washington, D.C., by using the bully pulpit of the presidency to get Americans on board with forcing Washington to live within its means, just as the rest of the country must.”  Read her op-ed HERE.

Candidates for Federal Offices Promise Support for a BBA –
Many campaigns for the 2018 elections are well underway.  Here are some examples of how increasing public support for a BBA and a term limits amendment are impacting positions taken by candidates for federal offices.

South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson says “We must protect our children’s future by reining in Washington’s out of control spending.  I have consistently supported a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution…”

In announcing his candidacy for a Pennsylvania Congressional seat, Art Halvorson said he supports “term limits on Congress, … and the Balanced Budget Amendment…”

New Hampshire Congressional candidate Mark Hounsell has announced that he supports a balanced budget amendment, saying the birth of his granddaughter this past November opened his eyes “even further to the need to continue in our efforts to leave the world a better place.”

In announcing his candidacy for the US Senate from Nebraska, Todd Watson promised “to cut federal spending, (and) balance the budget.”

Todd McKinley announced his candidacy for Tennessee’s First Congressional District by telling the local newspaper that “he is in favor of a balanced budget amendment…”

Minnesota State Rep. Jim Newberger is running for a seat in the US Senate.  Newberger is very vocal in his support for a BBA and is demonstrating his support by trying to lead the Minnesota legislature to adopt a resolution calling for a BBA-focused Article V convention.

First Guldenschuh Article V Progress Report of 2018  –
The Article V Convention Legislative Progress Reports, produced regularly by Georgia attorney David Guldenschuh have resumed with the start of the 2018 state legislative season.  His one-page reports quickly summarize the status of each active Article V campaign.

The February edition of Guldenschuh’s Report was not ready at press time, but it will be posted at http://articlevcaucus.com/progress-report-on-article-v-efforts/ as soon as it is complete.

A Comprehensive Review of Article V Efforts
One Month into 2018 Legislative Sessions –
Now that 2018 legislative sessions are underway, state legislators are beginning to file bills meant to lead to an Article V state-led convention to propose one or more Constitutional amendments.  Thirty-four similar applications are required to trigger an amendment-proposing convention.

Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force (BBATF).  This campaign, seeking to insert a federal fiscal responsibility provision into the US Constitution, currently has 28 states supporting its single-subject application.   Here is their current activity:

Maine:  HJR1251 was introduced on January 25 by Rep. Nathan Wadsworth, Rep. Norman Higgins and Rep. Steven Stanley as a bipartisan bill.

South Carolina:  HCR3473 has Rep. Peter McCoy as primary sponsor has one additional co-sponsor.  It was introduced in January 2017 and was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.  SCR547, introduced in March 2017, has Senator Shane Massey as primary sponsor and 6 co-sponsors.  Both bills are believed to be alive.

Virginia:  SJR26 was filed on January 4 by Senator Emmett Hanger.  It has been referred to the Rules Committee.  SJR11, a similar measure, was offered on January 10 by Senator John Cosgrove.

Washington State:  HJM4017 was introduced on January 19 by Rep. Cary Condotta and 5 co-sponsors.  The bill has been referred to the State Government, Elections & Information Technology Committee.

BBATF also has efforts underway in Idaho, Kentucky, and Minnesota.

Convention of States Project (CoSP).  So far 12 states have adopted the CoSP application for a convention to propose its recommended three-subject proposals.  Here is their current activity:

Idaho:  HCR32 was introduced on January 26 by the House of Delegates State Affairs Committee.  This bill varies from other currently adopted CoSP measures in that it does not support a term limits element.  The bill is currently pending in the House Judiciary, Rules & Administration Committee.

Iowa:  HJR12, SJR8, and SSB1110 were all introduced in March 2017 by the House of Delegates and Senate Judiciary Committees.  HJR12 was approved in the House by a vote of 58 to 38 last March.  SJR8 was voted out of a sub-committee on January 24.  These bills all vary from other currently adopted CoSP measures in that they do not support a term limits element.

Illinois:  HR110 was introduced in February 2017 with Rep. Robert Martwick as the primary sponsor, along with 6 co-sponsors.  It was referred to the Rules Committee.

Kentucky:  HJR81 is sponsored by Rep. Regina Huff.  Introduced January 19, it has been referred to the House Elections, Const. Amendments & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.

Maine:  HJR1232 was introduced on January 16 by Rep. Nathan Wadsworth and Rep. Stephen Stanley as a bipartisan bill.  It has been referred to the Committee on State and Local Government.  A hearing is scheduled for February 7.

Maryland:  SJR8 was introduced on January 25 and received a first reading before the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.  Senator Gail Bates is the primary sponsor, and there are 13 co-sponsors.

Michigan:  HJRV was introduced in September 2017 with Rep. Lee Chatfield as the primary sponsor.  It has 17 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Committee on Government Operations.

Minnesota:  HB2690 with Rep. Duane Quam as primary sponsor has 11 co-sponsors.  It was introduced in May 2017 and has carried over.  It is currently in the Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee.

Nebraska:  LR6 was introduced in January 2017 with 12 sponsors, including Senator Steve Halloran.  A co-sponsor was added on January 16, 2018.

New Hampshire:  HCR10 with Rep. Scott Wallace as prime sponsor and Rep. Marc Abear as co-sponsor was introduced on January 3.  It has been referred to the House State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee.

New Jersey:  SCR28 was introduced on January 9 by Senators Joseph Pennacchio, Michael Doherty and 4 co-sponsors.  ACR73 is the House version of this bill with 3 sponsors and 6 co-sponsors.

Ohio:  SJR1 was introduced in 2017 by Senator Matt Huffman and 3 co-sponsors.  It was referred to the Government Oversight and Reform Committee and appears to still be active.  HJR2 is a companion House bill introduced by Rep. Christina Hagen, Rep. Bill Patmon and 12 co-sponsors.

South Carolina:  SJR878 with Senator Shane Massey as primary sponsor has 11 co-sponsors.  It was introduced on January 9 and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Affairs Committee.  A similar bill, SCR86, was introduced in January 2017 with Senator Lawrence Grooms as sponsor and 12 co-sponsors.  That bill appears to still be alive, but inactive.  A related bill, HJR3233, was also introduced in 2017 and still appears to be alive.  It shows Rep. Bill Taylor as primary sponsor and has 32 co-sponsors.

South Dakota:  SJR3 was introduced on January 22 with Senator Richard Curd and 22 co-sponsors.  It has been referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee.

Washington State:  HJR4006 with Rep. Jesse Young as primary sponsor has 14 co-sponsors.  Introduced on January 8, the bill has been referred to the House State Government Committee.  Companion measure SJM8003 was introduced on January 19.  It has been referred to the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee.

CoSP reports that it now has 3.1 million citizen supporters.  The group also has efforts underway in Virginia.

Compact for America (CfA).  CfA has a single-subject proposed Constitutional amendment: a BBA.  Its approach varies from the above two campaigns in that it involves a formal compact between states to support a specifically-worded proposed amendment.  Five states have signed onto the compact.

Just before deadline Chip DeMoss, CEO of the CfA effort sent the following information.
“Our prime focus is on working with the Administration to hold a White House Summit on the role of the states in bringing fiscal responsibility to DC.  We would bring key state legislative leaders and strategic partners to the event.  We have had two key meetings already with Administration officials and have received a good reception.  We have outlined some next steps and are awaiting further response.  All of this is designed to ultimately allow for the passage of the Compact activating resolution in Congress.  Passage would be a big incentive to the states to get the job done.”

“We are working in six legislatures currently on passage of the Compact bill.  The current approach is for the Compact Commissioners to deal directly with legislative leadership.  That approach appears to be working for now.  The Commissioners have requested that we keep these states confidential for the time being until the bills have been filed.”

US Term Limits (USTL).  Two states (Florida and Alabama [see below]) have adopted resolutions supporting the single-subject objective of this group: term limits for members of Congress.  This organization has finally started to move forward.  Here is where they are currently active:

Alabama:  HJR23 was introduced on January 9 with Rep. Kerry Rich with 31 co-sponsors.  A couple days later the Alabama House unanimously (both Republicans and Democrats) approved the measure.  On January 25 the Alabama Senate concurred, formally adopting this Article V application.

Arizona: HCR2024 was introduced on January 25 by Rep. Darin Mitchell and 6 co-sponsors as a bipartisan bill.

Georgia:  SR195 was introduced during March 2017 with 6 prime sponsors and 8 co-sponsors.  Shortly after introduction the Senate approved the measure by a vote of 31 to 19.  It is currently pending in the House Rules Committee.  The companion House measure, HR217 also has 6 prime sponsors, but also languishes in the House Rules Committee.

New Hampshire:  HCR12 was introduced on November 3, 2017 by Rep. Scott Wallace with 3 co-sponsors.  It has been referred to the House State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee.

South Carolina:  HCR3567 with Rep. Eric Bedingfield as primary sponsor has 6 co-sponsors.  The bill was introduced in February 2017.  SCR545 with 2 sponsors was introduced in March 2017.  Both bills were referred to their respective Judicial Committees, and both bills appear to be alive.

USTL is also currently active in Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Campaign Finance-related Article V Measures –  Early-on these efforts were spearheaded by a group calling itself Wolf-PAC.  It is no longer clear who is leading this growing campaign which generally seeks a Constitutional amendment principally aimed at overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.  Here are the current states considering resolutions on the same general topic:

Iowa:  SJR5 was introduced in February 2017 by Senator Joseph Bolkcom and one co-sponsor.  SJR8, similar to SJR5, was introduced on January 9 showing the Senate State Government Committee as the sponsor.  HJR8 was also introduced in February 2017 by Rep. Liz Bennett and 6 co-sponsors.  Both bills appear to still be alive.  These bills deal with proposing Campaign Finance Reform.  A related bill, HJR12 was introduced in April 2017 showing the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee as the sponsor.

Maine:  SJR667 was introduced on January 16 by two Senators and two Reps.  The bill applies for an Article V convention to propose an amendment “to restore free and fair elections”.

Maryland:  SJR7 was introduced on January 24 with Senator Paul Pinsky as the primary sponsor, along with 24 co-sponsors.  Calling for a “Democracy Amendment”, this Article V application is similar to several others which seek to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.  The measure has been assigned to the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

Nebraska:  LR268 with Senator Bob Krist as primary sponsor was introduced in January 2017.  It had its first reading on January 4, 2018, with a hearing scheduled for January 24, 2018.  The resolution would call for an Article V convention to deal with “fair and free elections”.  The resolution seeks to be considered along with resolutions from other states that generally seek to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

New York:  SB3317 was introduced on January 3 with 10 Senate sponsors.  AB5109 is a similar bill introduced in the House on the same date with 35 sponsors.  The bills are proposed Acts rather than Resolutions, but they call on Congress to “to call a national constitutional convention to propose amendments in order to address concerns raised by the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission”.

South Carolina:  HCR4174 (with a single sponsor) and SCR571 (with 2 sponsors) were introduced in 2017.  Both bills appear to still be alive.  These bills deal with proposing Campaign Finance Reform.

Washington State:  On January 9, 2017 SJM8000 was introduced with Senator Dean Takko as primary sponsor, supported by 14 co-sponsors.  Although the “Whereas” clauses talk about the need for campaign finance reform, as written this is essentially an application for an “open” Article V convention.  The bill appears to be alive, residing in the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee.  A more recent version of this measure, HJM4003, was introduced in January 2018 with Rep. Jessyn Farrell as primary sponsor and 23 co-sponsors.

Similar efforts are known to be underway in Hawaii, New Jersey, and Virginia.

Article V Convention Delegate-related Bills –  At the September 2017 Arizona Article V Planning Convention delegates voted to encourage all state legislatures “to enact delegate selection legislation at the earliest opportunity”.  These are states currently considering such actions:

Nebraska:  LB1058 is billed as a “Faithful Delegate to Federal Article V Convention Act”.   It was introduced on January 17 by Senator Steve Halloran as prime sponsor.  The bill has 15 co-sponsors.  It has been referred to Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

New Hampshire:  HB1268 was introduced on January 3 with Rep. Timothy Horrigan as primary sponsor.  This bill establishes a procedure for the selection of delegates to an Article V convention.  It is pending before the House Legislative Administration Committee.

Virginia:  SJR31 was introduced on January 8 by Senator Mark Peake.  Then companion measure HJR49 was introduced on January 19 with Delegate Mark Cole as primary sponsor.  Both measures have 2 co-sponsors.  This resolution establishes “procedures for selecting and replacing commissioners to represent the Virginia General Assembly at interstate conventions (including Article V conventions), for clarifying the scope of authority of commissioners and committees at such conventions, for enforcing limits on such authority, and for prescribing an oath to be taken by interstate convention commissioners.”

An effort is also known to be underway to propose such legislation in Michigan.

Another Related Bill of Interest –
New Hampshire:  HJR4 is not actually an application for an Article V convention.  Rather, it is a resolution “urging Congress to apply laws equally to United States citizens and members of Congress”, while urging sister states to hold an Article V convention for the same purpose.  The measure has 10 sponsors and has been referred to the House State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Who Said It?

Ronald Reagan helped launch the state-led campaign for a BBA
in the mid-1970s. Since then, Washington has spent nearly $12 trillion on interest (over $100,000 per tax-payer), and borrowed nearly $18.5 trillion (over $150,000 per tax-payer), costing each taxpayer over $250,000. Each year we don’t act, another $14,000
($10,200 borrowed, and $3,800 blown on interest) is added to each tax-payers burden.

Lisa Nelson, CEO
American Legislative Exchange Council

sssss