May 2021 Newsletter 100th EDITION

This Month…

  • Oklahoma Senate Calls for National Federalism Task Force
  • Other Federalism News
  • Report: ‘True National Debt Exceeds $123 Trillion’
  • CRFB Position Statement on Infrastructure-Related Debt
  • Happenings on the Article V Front
  • Accurate Quotes Counter Dishonest Article V Attackers
  • Warning: Foreigners Seek to Influence Article V Efforts
  • Readers Salute 100th Edition of this Newsletter

Oklahoma Senate Calls for National Federalism Task Force –
On March 29 the Oklahoma Senate reportedly adopted SCR6, a resolution that seeks to clarify the roles of both the state and federal governments.  The bill was authored by Senator Michael Bergstrom.

According to blog site MuskogeeNOW”the resolution renews the state Legislature’s commitment to preserving and reasserting its powers and authority over the responsibilities granted to states under the United States Constitution as specifically protected by the 10th Amendment.”

The resolution calls for the creation of a National Federalism Task Force that would convene a series of federalism summits aimed at development of plans for restoring and maintaining divisions in the powers, roles and responsibilities of the general government and the states.

Bergstrom was quoted as saying, “SCR 6 is a first step toward pushing back against the federal government’s overreach,” and  “The Oklahoma State Legislature is calling upon all other states whose leaders desire to protect their state’s powers, citizens’ rights and governing voice to participate in a task force to develop plans for restoring appropriate divisions of powers and roles between the states and federal government.”  Read the resolution HERE.

Other Federalism News –

  • Under the headline Three cheers for federalism, on April 8 The Spectator carried a piece by Karol Markowski.

She observes, “America did a lot wrong during the pandemic but maintaining our federalist system was exactly right. Post-pandemic, let’s remember that that’s what worked and defer to state governments to solve more of our problems. We’ve moved toward looking at the president and Congress to lead us. We shouldn’t.”  Read her piece HERE.

  • Deseret News (Arizona) on April 11 carried a piece by Frank Pignanelli and LaVarr Webb with somewhat different perspectives on federal involvement in the pandemic.  It is entitled Is massive federal spending destroying the concept of federalism? 

The article involves the two authors discussing such questions as “When the pandemic crisis is over, and after the expenditure of trillions of federal dollars, some of it given to states and local governments, will the federal/state relationship have been forever altered?”  Read the article HERE.

  • On April 5 The Hill carried an opinion piece by David Dana and Claire Priest with a headline that asked Will the Supreme Court abandon federalism to defeat pro-labor regulation?

The article deals with recent arguments before the US Supreme Court in the Cedar Point v. Hassid case wherein the Pacific Legal Foundation asserted that a California law allowing union organizers entry onto private agricultural property for up to 120 days constitutes a “taking” under the US Constitution.

The writers contend that [t]he justices’ own questions at oral argument – as well as public commentary to date – have largely ignored the federalism dimension of the Cedar Point case. That is a mistake.” and “If states are not allowed to define substantive property law, it will be shaped by the preferences and ideology of the justices who happen to serve on the United States Supreme Court.”  Read the detailed piece HERE.

  • Ohio is fighting the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 recently adopted by Congress.  It has filed a lawsuit that could set an important precedent for federalism.  Writer Erin Clark provides a good review of the reasoning behind the action HERE.

Clark says, “Ohio’s argument with the federal government is not about cutting taxes; it is about whether the federal government may use its disbursal of funds to dictate state policy — about this or any other subject that is not the province of the federal government under the Constitution.”

He concluded that “Ohio’s lawsuit will set a marker on the limits of federal power and protect the safe space in which states may operate.  Attorneys general of both parties should support this effort.  We’re making the argument to protect red and blue states alike.”

  • On April 9 the UtahPolicy blog published a review of the just-completed 3-day Functional Federalism conference hosted by Utah Valley University and its Center for Constitutional Studies.  The commentary was written by LaVarr Webb.  Read it HERE.

Videos of the April 6-8 Functional Federalism sessions can be found HERE.

Report: ‘True National Debt Exceeds $123 Trillion’ –
The startling number comes from the latest edition of The Financial State of the Union 2021 report, compiled and published annually by Chicago-based nonprofit Truth in Accounting (TIA), published April 15.

This is the fifth year TIA has produced its Fiscal State of the Union report.  The analysis is based on the latest available audited financial reports.  They found the federal government’s overall financial condition worsened by $9.84 trillion in 2020.

The report constitutes a measure of the government’s financial condition including reported federal assets and liabilities, as well as promised, but not funded, Social Security and Medicare benefits.  The report says, “Elected and non-elected officials have made repeated financial decisions that have left the federal government with a debt burden of $123.11 trillion, including unfunded Social Security and Medicare promises.  That equates to a $796,000 burden for every federal taxpayer.  Because the federal government would need such a vast amount of money from taxpayers to cover this debt, it received an ’F’ grade for its financial condition.”

Numbers for the TIA report were based primarily on the Financial Report of the United States Government, a publication of the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, US Department of the Treasury.  TIA notes that “The federal government has $5.95 trillion in assets compared to $129.06 trillion worth of bills.  The outcome is a $123.11 trillion shortfall.”  The 3-page report can be found HERE.

Truth in Accounting is led by Sheila A. Weinberg.  TIA is “committed to educating and empowering citizens with understandable, reliable and transparent government financial information.”  Their web site is HERE.  They have their own Debt Clock that can be seen HERE.  That clock displays both “The US Published National Debt,” and “The Truth.”  Before the end of April “The Truth” number had surpassed $132.5 trillion.

CRFB Issues Position Statement on Infrastructure-Related Debt –
Shortly after President Biden announced plans for a massive new infrastructure undertaking, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) issued a news release that said “at this time there is no further justification for additional borrowing.”

Maya MacGuineas, president of CRFB said, “Congress should heed the President’s call to fully offset all new spending and tax cuts. If they do not like the specific proposals included in President Biden’s plan, they should offer alternative tax increases and/or spending cuts, or reduce the size of the package to what they are willing to pay for.”

Ms. MacGuineas went on to say, “In light of a record high, growing, and unsustainable debt, this infrastructure spending package should be paid for over a shorter time period than the 15 years they propose.  It is critical that new spending in the plan be credibly temporary, especially considering the unusually long window for offsets, and that dollars be spent effectively on true and worthwhile one-time investments.

“Finally, the price tag on this plan is high.  While the country is clearly in need of infrastructure investment, it is not at all clear that $2 trillion of spending is needed or justified.  Congress should do the important work to build a package [that has] a reasonable cost, [is] well targeted, economically justified, and free of political favoritism.”  More information about CRFB is available HERE.

Happenings on the Article V Front –

  • On March 30 Newsweek carried an interview-based article on Mark Meckler, co-founder of Convention of States Action (CoS).

When asked about the goals of CoS, the article reports Meckler’s response as: “Meckler isn’t pushing for any specific amendment, but he has a prediction on what might be popular should his group succeed.  At the top of the list is term limits, which he says is supported by about 80 percent of the population.  Also, an amendment abolishing the Department of Education could pass, as could one that mandates single-subject bills because ‘Americans are frustrated with 5,000-word bills that nobody understands’.”  Read the Newsweek article HERE.

  • According to NetNebraska (Nebraska’s PBS and NPR stations) and Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska’s unicameral legislature fell two votes short of adopting the Convention of States Project’s (CoSP) application for an Article V convention.

State Senator Steve Halloran, with the help of State Senators Tom Briese, Tom Brewer and Steve Erdman, sought to get the legislature as a whole to pull the bill out of a so-called “kill committee” and onto the legislative floor for debate.  Twenty-five votes were needed to succeed.  They got 23 votes.

Senator Briese was quoted as saying “Adoption of this (legislative resolution) sends a message that we’re serious about these issues,” and added that he believes the federal debt poses one of the biggest threats to democracy.

Also during April the Colorado legislature reportedly approved HJR1006 which rescinded all Article V applications previously adopted by that state.

  • In South Carolina, Senators Shane Massey and Rex Rice are aggressively pushing for adoption of SCR141, a resolution applying for a BBA-focused Article V convention.  The bill was reportedly approved by a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on April 16.

A number of Article V scholars believe that should this resolution pass, it would be the 34th application for an Article V convention, thus requiring Congress to call such a convention (setting the location and date to convene).  The current version of SCR141 can be found HERE.  Rep. Rice hopes to amend the resolution before adoption by adding wording that lists the other 33 states with which the SC application is intended to aggregate with and which would stipulate a 60-day window for Congress to take action on calling the convention.

The Convention of States Project (CoSP) resolution also appears to be gaining favorable support in both houses of the South Carolina legislature.

  • During late March Associated Press outlets carried stories about Alabama’s US Senator Richard Shelby’s 18th filing of a bill seeking a balanced budget amendment to the US constitution.

As a federal office-holder (terms in the House and Senate) since 1987, the 87-year-old Shelby announced this will be his last term.  Meanwhile California US House member Jay Obernolte introduced his version of a BBA as HJR32.  Such congressional bills are considered eye-wash with leadership exhibiting no interest in moving them forward.

  • Last month US Term Limits (USTL) saw West Virginia adopt its application for an Article V convention… the fourth for this movement (to term limit members of Congress), and the first new Article V application this legislative year.

Meanwhile USTL continues to be especially active in North Carolina and Tennessee.  On April 6 Knox News (Knoxville, TN) published a guest editorial by Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs that says, “Term limits would remind members of Congress that they work for the people, not the other way around.”

Mayor Jacobs says, [I]t is time to adopt congressional term limits.  The idea is woven into the American experiment; Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams all supported it.  Today, it is the most popular and bipartisan issue in our country, with 82% support from the public.  That includes support from 89% of Republicans, 76% of Democrats and 83% of independent voters.

He went on to say, “I am under no illusions that Congress will propose term limits on itself.  That would be like children agreeing to set their own bedtime.  It’ll never happen.  But thankfully, the framers of our great Constitution gave us another path forward.”   Read that editorial HERE.

Two days later Tennessee’s Congressman Tim Burchett penned another guest editorial for Knox News in which he said, “If my brief time in the US House of Representatives has taught me anything, it’s that Congress will never be fixed without term limits. That’s why I’m hoping the Tennessee General Assembly will support a term-limits convention and pass House Joint Resolution 8 (HJR 8).”  Read that piece HERE.  On April 8 the Tennessee House approved HJR8 by a vote of 53 to 34 before sending it to their Senate.

In North Carolina the USTL resolution was approved by the House on March 17 on a vote of 61 to 52.  As the bill was passed to the Senate, NC House Speaker Tim Moore suggested that the effort represents the nation’s only chance to impose term limits on members of Congress.  He stressed, “Congress will not do it itself.”

The Beaufort County (NC) Commissioners on April 5 voted 5-2 in favor of a resolution to “raise the collective voice” of the Board in support of HJR172.

Accurate Quotes Counter Dishonest Article V Attackers –
Article V opponents often quote former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, making it sound like he was strongly opposed to an Article V convention.  Last month this newsletter included a lengthy string of quotes of Scalia’s actual words and a link to a video of him saying them.

Samuel Fieldman of Wolf-PAC (the “Fair & Free Elections” Article V movement) has since pointed out that his group has produced a series of single-page fliers that reflect the actual words of several American leaders whose views on Article V are often mischaracterized.

Find the flyer reflecting Scalia’s views at Wolf-pac.com/Scalia.  The words of founders James Madison can be found at Wolf-pac.com/Madison, John Jay at Wolf-pac.com/Jay, and Alexander Hamilton at Wolf-pac.com/Hamilton.  They even have one for modern day legal scholar Laurence Tribe at Wolf-pac.com/Tribe, who does often speak out against Article V conventions, but has offered qualified support for some limited kinds of Article V conventions.

Warning: Foreign Web Sites Seek to Influence Article V Efforts –
About a year ago this newsletter reported that Google Searches for Article V and Convention of States topics were bringing up a lot of questionable results, often with misleading information.  That continues to be true.

Just during the month of April at least 10 such search results highlighted headings such as “What Happened At the Constitutional Convention,” “The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787,” and “What was discussed at the constitutional convention.”  Each of those search results came from Internet addresses that were clearly based in Russia and Italy.  Would those postings be motivated by something other than influencing Americans during efforts to enact an Article V convention of states?  Be aware!

A Good Related Read –
In late March the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued a thought-provoking paper written by former Utah legislator Ken Ivory entitled Live by the King, Die by the King!  Read it HERE.

Readers Salute 100th Edition of this Newsletter –
     From Gary Banz, Former State Representative, Oklahoma:
Even though there are plenty of ways to remain active with Article V issues, it is just not the same after you leave the legislative body due to term limits.  I look forward to each new release from the Article V Caucus to keep me informed about the latest developments using Article V of the Constitution to make needed adjustments in our self-governing republic.  It also equips me with the latest data when talking to my contacts in the Oklahoma legislature.

     From Mark Guyer, Article V Activist:
I find the newsletter very useful.  It helps keep our reform movement together and informed.

     From David Biddulph,
     Co-Founder of Let Us Vote for BBA and the BBA Task Force:
The article V Caucus newsletter has been an invaluable resource to the campaign for a US balanced budget amendment.  We agree with Ronald Reagan’s statement about the need for a us balance budget Amendment: “If not us who?  If not now when”?

     From Paul S. Gardiner, Article V Activist:
The monthly newsletter of the State Legislators’ Article V Caucus has been an invaluable source of information about developments and events in the ongoing movement for state legislatures to convene a convention of states to propose critically needed constitutional amendments.  I have found each newsletter to be a thorough summary of important actions being taken by different groups and legislators throughout the nation; there is truly no other realistic way to stay up to speed with all the many different Article V happenings in different states, etc.

Please keep the newsletter coming as I believe it will be needed more and more as time goes by and the federal government continues to dramatically increase its overreach into the lives of American citizens.

     From Barry W Poulson, Economist, former Colo. University Professor:
The State Legislators’ Article V Caucus newsletter provides unique insights into alternative approaches to constitutional reform.  I appreciate the opportunity to share some of my ideas as well as read cutting edge ideas from other scholars and policy makers.  The newsletter reaches a broad audience and is having an important impact in the current debates regarding fiscal rules and fiscal policies.

     From Justin Haskins, Research Fellow at The Heartland Institute:
[The Caucus newsletter is] the one newsletter that I stop everything I’m doing to read.  The future of the nation hinges on the Article V movement, and nothing summarizes Article V news better than the State Legislators’ Article V Caucus newsletter.

     From Samuel Fieldman, National Counsel, Wolf-PAC:
     (The Fair & Free Elections movement)
The State Legislators’ Article V Caucus Newsletter is the only publication that consistently reports accurately and reliably on the progress of organizations seeking to use this important tool created by our founders.  Each group has its own goals and doesn’t always see eye to eye on policy, but anyone can trust Stu MacPhail’s reporting and the information provided to better understand the process.

     From Mae James, Executive Director
     Let Us Vote for a BBA Citizen’s Campaign:
Thank you very much for this excellent continuing coverage of the Article V movement.  I always learn from it.  I always appreciate it.

     From Bruce Lee, Executive Director,
Phoenix Correspondence Commission

On behalf of the Phoenix Correspondence Commission, let me heartily congratulate you and the entire team of the State Legislators Article V Caucus for your 100th edition of the monthly newsletter!

With the complexity of the world around us, the newsletter has been a valuable source of consistent, quality information regarding Federalism and the diverse Article V efforts within our nation – particularly in the area of a balanced budget amendment (BBA).  Frequently the newsletter has provided information which would be difficult to find elsewhere.

As you recall, the Phoenix Correspondence Commission (PCC) was created during the September 2017 historic convention of states called by the State of Arizona.  This was the first convention of states called by a state legislature to which all states were invited since 1861.  The Phoenix Convention was called as a step toward an Article V convention to propose a Constitutional amendment aimed at restoring federal fiscal restraint.  As the PCC’s primary purpose includes being a single point of contact in tracking applications for a BBA convention; monitoring Article V efforts; and coordinating with Congress; you can see how valuable the unique contribution of the newsletter is to the mission of the PCC.

Therefore, let me warmly thank you for all of your effort, time, and sacrifice for the cause of good governance!  Please keep up the good work.  We are very grateful!

     From Frank Keeney, Founder, Act 2 Reform:
Every generation needs a Paul Revere to sound the alarm.  And The State Legislators’ Article V Caucus does precisely that.  The monthly newsletter tells us how to resist the growing trend of a bloated and unconstitutional national government by embracing federalism and championing the authority of We the People and our state representatives.  What a valuable source of education for us all!

     Wendy Reeves, Secretary/Treasurer, Path To Reform
The future of America is up for grabs. And we need our locally elected State Legislatures to collaborate and lead the charge. This is the only path that leads to fixing our national problems. Our team at Path To Reform finds this monthly newsletter to be a source of enlightenment and encouragement. We are grateful for the State Legislators’ Article V Caucus.

     From John Cogswell, President, Campaign Constitution:
There is no better voice championing the role of the States, under the US Constitution, than the State Legislators Article V Caucus.  The monthly newsletter is a great resource that teaches us about federalism and how the States can use Article V to fix the government.  I also appreciate the monthly updates on how States across the Union are succeeding in resisting the federal government’s overreach.

Who Said It?

“We are a nation of free enterprise, with a limited government,
with an independent Court, one built on respect for the Constitution.
If we allow politicians to violate these principles, we will not survive.
By law we must follow the Constitution.  It’s time politicians do this.
If they violate the Constitution, they must be replaced.” And “Governments exist upon confidence,
and confidence in the courts is fundamental.”
Former US Senator Josh Bailey, a North Carolina Democrat – circa 1936
He was the primary author of the “Conservative Manifesto” and the
principal voice opposing FDR’s failed effort to add 6 members to SCOTUS.
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