May 2017 Newsletter

This month…

  • New Comprehensive Article V Resource Site Has Opened
  • Legislators Plan for Upcoming Historic Convention of States
  • Two New Excellent Books Deal with an Article V Convention
  • Article V Opponents Have Become Ultra Aggressive
  • Upcoming Events That Are Important to Article V Efforts
  • New Video Addresses Myth about 1787 Constitution
  • Survey: National Debt is Not on Millennial’s Radar
  • Colorado Senate Kills Congressional Term Limits Bill
  • Convention of States Project is Still Active in 8 States
  • Several Publications Cover Article V Issues
  • Georgia Attorney Tracks Article V Progress
  • They Are Still Trying to Ratify the ERA
  • Indiana Moves toward a BBA in Their State Constitution

New Comprehensive Article V Resource Site Has Opened –
The newly updated “Resources” section of the Caucus web site includes a directory to more than a dozen topical areas of inquiry on Article V.  Included are:

  • A summary of all the current Article V movements, contact information for their leaders, a statement of their objectives, links to their model resolutions, resources for learning which states have adopted Article V resolutions, and a quick summary of current Article V efforts..
  • Links to four other web sites that provide extensive Article V information.
  • Links to more than 70 scholarly papers, topical articles and studies about the history of Article V and several important Article V topical issues… and links to more than a dozen important books on Article V.

These free resources are available to everyone HERE.

Legislators Plan for Upcoming Historic Convention of States –
State legislators in several states have already begun to select delegates to the September 12 national convention of states which the state of Arizona will be hosting in just a few months.

The last national convention of states was the Washington Peace Conference held in 1861, when state leaders sought to head off the civil war.  This convention of state leaders will begin preparation for a formal Article V convention, seeking to head off further federal debt-building.

The Arizona convention call is a strictly limited conclave.  The resolution which provided for this meeting says, “The State of Arizona respectfully calls a planning convention of the states, consisting of commissioners chosen and authorized in the manner that each respective state legislature determines…” to “plan for, and recommend rules of procedure for, the prospective convention for proposing a balanced budget amendment to the United Stated Constitution.”

Arizona House Speaker J. D. Mesnard said, “Arizona is sending a message that if the federal government can’t get their fiscal house in order, the states will do it for them, just as our Founding Fathers envisioned.”

He went on, “Arizona is at the forefront of efforts urging states to flex their muscles by exercising their constitutionally-prescribed powers to push back against the federal government.  I look forward to talking with our counterparts in other states to begin work organizing an Article V amendments convention that will finally put our national government on a more solvent fiscal path.”

Constitutional expert Rob Natelson wrote in a recent American Spectator article:  “Contrary to some histrionic claims, neither the planning assembly nor the subsequent gathering will be constitutional conventions.  Each will be a taskforce limited to narrow topics.  Any amendment suggested by the later convention would become part of the Constitution only if approved by 38 states.”

Legislators wishing to take the lead to assure that their state is represented at the Arizona convention will want to take a look at guidance provided by the Arizona legislature… HERE.

Two New Excellent Books Deal with an Article V Convention –
In the last month Colorado Congressman Ken Buck released his new book: Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think.  He recommends that states support Article V conventions for a balanced budget amendment and for a Congressional term limits amendment.

The highly acclaimed book pulls no punches as Buck underscores the need to “clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, D.C.”.  Find it HERE.

Also… Wisconsin resident Timothy Dake has just released Far From Unworkable sub-titled “The Fears, Facts, FAQs and Court Findings Relating to the Constitution’s Provision for an Article V Amendatory Convention.”  The author was originally an avowed opponent of the use of Article V.  His considerable research over four years led him to a total turnaround.

This comprehensive 850-page book of facts about the history, rules and procedures related to Article V is thoroughly documented, yet non-academic.  A “State Legislators’ 15-Minute Executive Summary” at the beginning, provides an excellent overview of the entire Amendatory Convention process.

Dake’s excellent book is available HERE.

Article V Opponents Have Become Ultra Aggressive –
It was no surprise that certain under-informed groups would oppose an Article V convention.  What is surprising is that the so-called “progressive” portion of the American political scene would lead the opposition with such vengeance.  In the last month volumes of misinformation have been pouring into the main-stream press under the coordination of the well-funded Common Cause organization.

That group has assembled a coalition of “progressive” organizations which typically promote increased federal spending for their causes.  Together they have launched a campaign to prevent states from using Article V… the Constitutional tool the Founders provided to assure that America retains its federalism framework… its balance of power between states and the federal government.

The wordsmiths at Common Cause have churned out news releases, op-eds, and letters to the editor which uniformly misinform readers about Article V.  Expect them to continue as Article V efforts get closer to 34 state applications for a convention to propose amendments.

The Common Cause efforts have already resulted in Maryland and New Mexico rescinding decades-old Article V applications for a BBA.  They have even persuaded the Vermont Senate to vote to rescind the Campaign Finance Reform Article V resolution (also known as the anti-Citizens United or “Fair Elections’ measure) that Vermont just adopted in 2014.  As of deadline the Vermont House had not acted on the measure.   Meanwhile Wolf-PAC, the organization promoting the Campaign Finance Reform Article V effort, reported “that Common Cause used its lobbyists to stop New Mexico from trying to get money out of politics by killing a bill (the Wolf-PAC proposal) in the middle of the night.”

Common Cause and the organizations it claims to lead seem not to care that they are peddling misinformation and distortions.  Legislators must arm themselves with accurate information about Article V… information that is available at the web site operated by this Caucus… HERE.

Fritz Pettyjohn of the Reagan Project blog site reports that “11,359 Constitutional amendments have been proposed in Congress since 1789, and 33 of them were sent on to the States for ratification.  27 are in the Constitution.”  Contrary to the Common Cause fear campaign, there is nothing to fear about any amendments proposed under the authority of either option in Article V of the Constitution.

Upcoming Events That Are Important to Article V Efforts –
Dates to plan for:
July 19-21
44th Annual Meeting – American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – Denver –
Hyatt Hotel  More info HERE.
July 21-23
Western Conservative Conference – Sponsored by      the Centennial Institute –
Denver – Convention Center  More info HERE.
September 12-15
National Convention of States to Plan a BBA-focused Article V Convention
Arizona – Hosted by the Arizona legislature.

Excellent New Video Addresses Myth about 1787 Constitution –
The Convention of States Project (CoSP) has posted a very good 2-minute video on YouTube that dispels the notion that the 1787 Constitutional was illegitimate… that the convention that produced it ran away… exceeded its authority.  The video can be viewed HERE.

The CoSP video is based on the highly detailed dissertation prepared by Michael Farris and published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy under the title “Defying Conventional Wisdom: The Constitution Was Not the Product of a Runaway Convention”

The Farris treatise establishes beyond any doubt that the Framers were acting within their respective state-granted authority when they drafted a new Constitution and referred it to Congress for submission to the states.

Ferris’ full 86-page dissertation can be read HERE.

Survey: National Debt is Not on Millennial’s Radar –
The Daily Caller carried a revealing story during April by a student at American University, entitled, “Millennials Don’t Care About the National Debt”.

Natalie DeVincenzi wrote that “Our nation has a looming fiscal crisis on its hands and millennials are now its biggest inheritor.  With our national debt fast approaching $20 trillion—which is larger than the economies of China, Japan, and Germany combined—addressing and fixing the issue of the national debt should be a priority.  Yet, millennials lack fundamental knowledge about the national debt.”

She reports that she conducted a survey of American University students revealing “that millennials are unaware of basic information about the national debt and do not see fixing the issue as timely or important.”  Read the story HERE.

Colorado Senate Kills Congressional Term Limits Bill –
Senator Kevin Lundberg introduced SJM17-008, a proposed joint resolution calling for an Article V convention to draft a Congressional term limits amendment to the Constitution.  The bill immediately went to the Senate floor where it was defeated by a 10 to 25 vote.

Bob Berry, Colorado State Director for the U.S. Term Limits effort said that on the plus side, “we got a recorded vote, and 3 Democrats voted with us.”  Berry reports local polling indicates that nearly 90% of Colorado citizens support term limits for members of Congress.

Positive news was made for the U.S. Term Limits effort this past month in Missouri and Tennessee.  On April 12 the Missouri Senate approved SCR14 by a vote of 19 to 14.  It is now pending in the House Rules – Administrative Oversight Committee.  Related bill HCR10 has not moved forward.

Also on April 12 in Tennessee SJR92 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a recommendation for adoption, on a vote of 5 to 3, and referred to the Senate Calendar Committee.

Convention of States Project is Still Active in 8 States –
The following list shows the current status of CoSP efforts:
Iowa:  HJR11 with 41 co-sponsors and related bill SJR8 are CoSP bills without reference to supporting Congressional term limits.  Neither bill saw action during April.
Illinois:  Local CoSP organizers have developed a substantial bi-partisan coalition supporting HJR32.  The bill has 46 co-sponsors in the House (19 Democrats and 27 Republicans).  Sadly the bill labors under the following “Short Description”:  STATE CON CON APPLICATION.  Unlike CoSP bills in other states, this potential Article V application only lists two authorized topics.  The bill includes language that says, “That the convention delegates from Illinois are hereby instructed not to support any amendment proposals regarding term limits for federal officials or for members of Congress.”
Kentucky:  Rep. Jim Decesare and Rep. Tim Couch introduced HJR54 in February.  There has been no action since.
Missouri:  CoSP bill SCR4 was approved in the Senate by a vote of 26 to 7.  On April 26 the measure was referred to the House Rules – Administrative Oversight Committee.
Nebraska:  State Senator Mike Hilgers recently spoke out in favor of LR6, the CoSP bill, in a YouTube video that can be seen HERE. The bill was introduced by Senator Laura Ebke.  Sen. Jim Scheer Nebraska Speaker of the Legislature, said he would require supporters to show they have at least 33 of the 49 total votes (to end an anticipated filibuster by opponents) before he would schedule the resolution for more debate.  No votes have yet been taken on the measure.
North Carolina: Former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn recently appeared in Raleigh, NC in support of CoSP bills.  HB44 was introduced in the House during February with 13 co-sponsors.  It was assigned to the Judiciary Committee the next day, where it still sits awaiting a hearing.  Meanwhile SR36 with six co-sponsors was introduced in the Senate on April 25.  That bill was approved by the Senate on 4/26 by a vote of 29 to 20… and sent to the House on 4/27.
South Carolina:  H3233 with 32 sponsors has been introduced in the House and S86 with 12 sponsors has been introduced in the Senate.  Status continues to be unknown.
Texas:  HJR39 has 80 co-sponsors, but has been languishing in the House State & Federal Power & Responsibility, Select Committee since April 13.  A similar bill in the Senate, SJR2, has 13 co-sponsors and anticipates action on May 3.
Washington:  HJM4006 with 16 sponsors is under consideration in the House State Government Committee.

Several Publications Cover Article V Issues –
On April 11 The Daily Caller carried a piece entitled “How States Are Trying to Force Federal Government to Control Spending”.   It covers efforts by both the Compact for America (CfA) and the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force (BBATF).  Read the article HERE.

With the BBA effort heating up in Wisconsin, several publications have carried articles about the proposal and about the Article V process.  Unfortunately several of the articles were based on faulty information, but there were some good ones.  One such article was written by M. D. Kittle for the MacIver News Service (MacIver Institute), entitled “Article V Convention Measure Could Be Headed for Senate Vote”.  Read that story HERE.

On April 19 The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, gave brief coverage to efforts in that state to get support for a BBA-focused Article V convention, with a link to earlier coverage of the topic.  Read “Today at the SC State House: Calling a ‘convention of the states’” HERE.

In mid-April The Daily Caller published an op-ed by Professor Rob Natelson.  It was entitled “Scalia Probably Favored an Amendment Convention – But What Does It Matter?”  It is available for reading HERE.

Convention of States Project (CoSP) Attorney Rita Dunaway slams ‘schizophrenic’ conservatives over claim that the American Constitution is illegitimate in a new piece published in April on WorldNetDaily.com.  That claim has repeatedly been made as a reason to avoid use of the Article V convention provision.

Ms. Dunaway’s most recent piece is entitled “Dispelling the Illegitimate-Constitution Myth”, and can be read HERE.

In early April Utah Policy.com carried an opinion piece by LaVarr Webb, the site’s publisher, entitled “Don’t be afraid of Article V amendments convention”.

About Article V, Webb said, “I don’t understand why conservatives would voluntarily surrender an important tool (about the only one left) that the nation’s founders gave states so they could be equal players in our system to the federal government.  Opposing an Article V convention is not only dumb, it’s dangerous — eliminating an important check on the federal government and reducing state freedom.”

Read Webb’s entire column HERE.

Georgia Attorney Tracks Article V Progress –
By mid-April, Article V watchdog David Guldenschuh reported counting at least 175 pieces of Article V-related legislation as having been filed in 40 states just during the 2017 legislative sessions that began in January.

He gave special recognition to Arizona where the legislature approved two different Article V applications and issued a call for a national convention of states to be held in their state to plan for a BBA-focused Article V convention.

See Guldenschuh’s most recent Article V Convention Legislative Progress Report HERE.

They Are Still Trying to Ratify the ERA –
During the past month Nevada legislators have proudly ratified the Equal Rights Amendment that Congress proposed in 1972 and sent to the states for ratification.  By votes of 28 to 14 in the House and 13 to 8 in the Senate they have approved HJR2, a ratifying resolution.  The original ratification deadline was March 22, 1979 by which time 35 of the needed 38 states had ratified the amendment.  Although Congress extended the ratification deadline to June 30, 1982, no additional states agreed to ratify.

In Virginia, SJR221 and HJR712 recently sought to cause Virginia to join Nevada.  But their legislative session ended before action was taken on either bill.  Reportedly the Illinois legislature was considering an ERA ratification bill too, but no such bill has been located.

Proponents of the Equal Rights Amendment argue that there should be no time limit placed on the ratification of any Constitutional Amendment, and therefore passage by two more states (after Nevada) will fully ratify the Amendment and add it to the Constitution.

Indiana Moves toward a BBA in Their State Constitution –
On April 5 the Indiana legislature approved a proposed amendment to its state’s constitution which, if approved by voters in the 2018 general election, will require the state to operate under a balanced budget.  The resolution, SJR7, was approved in the Senate by a 43 to 4 vote and in the House by a 94 to 4 vote.

Among other things, the resolution requires Indiana’s public pension funds to be actuarially funded to protect teachers.  It also prevents court-ordered tax increases without approval from the General Assembly.

The bill’s author, State Senator Brandt Hershman, said, “Though Indiana has exercised fiscal discipline in the past, which has helped lead to record levels of employment, a AAA bond rating and historic investments in education and infrastructure, amending our constitution to include this balanced budget requirement will protect future generations of taxpayers and maintain our state’s fiscal strength for years to come.  I believe Hoosiers will vote in favor of amending these principles into our Constitution.”

A copy of SJR7 can be read HERE.

Who Said It?

“The sovereign power of altering and amending the constitution . . .
does not lie with this foederal legislature,
whom some have erroneously apprehended to be supreme —
That power, which is truly and evidently the real point of sovereignty,
is vested in the several legislatures and [ratifying] conventions of the states,
chosen by the people respectively within them.
The foederal government cannot alter the constitution,
but the representative bodies of the states, that is, their legislatures and conventions, only can execute these acts of sovereign power.”

 

Founding Father Tench Coxe,
writing in an op-ed piece for the Pennsylvania Gazette, June 11, 1788.

 

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