October 2015 Newsletter

  • Proposed ASL Rule Questioned by Article V Expert
  • ALEC Formally Adopts Another Article V Model Resolution
  • New Educational Video Series Released by the BBA Task Force
  • CfA to Join Navy Seals for Special Event in Arizona
  • Countermand Movement Planning for 2016 Legislative Sessions
  • NTLC Celebrates 40 Years Work toward Federal Fiscal Restraint
  • Support of Article V BBA is Part of Kasich’s Presidential Bid
  • US Senator Hatch Calls for Action on a BBA
  • New Group Organized to Assist with BBA Drive
  • ‘Plausible Deniability’ Has Come to an End
  • US Fiscal Mess Pegged as Potential Trigger for Global Crisis

Proposed ASL Rule Questioned by Article V Expert
The leadership of the Assembly of State Legislatures (ASL) reportedly will suggest a rule at the ASL Nov. 11–13 general meeting in Salt Lake City that modifies the traditional state-by-state (majority rules) voting system… to one that requires a supermajority to propose any amendments.

Rob Natelson of the Independence Institute in Denver says, “This would be unfortunate.”  He suggests the proposed change in voting rules as, “an unprecedented system that would make it almost impossible for the convention to actually propose any amendments.”

“The traditional standard,” Natelson contends, “is one state, one vote, and with questions decided by a majority present and voting.”  Natelson, a retired Constitutional law professor is believed to have published more in-depth research on the Constitution’s amendment process than any other active scholar.

He points out that there have been efforts to change that standard for previous conventions, but they always have failed.  He suggested that this may be because while not everyone is happy with the traditional rule, there is no alternative that wins widespread support and is consistent with the Constitution’s general plan.  Also, in the one convention where a supermajority of states was thought necessary, the scheme did not work, and was soon abandoned in favor of the traditional rule.

Natelson noted also that nearly all the lawmakers and citizens who have worked to bring about an Article V convention have done so on the assumption that the traditional voting rule would be honored.  “Efforts to change it,” he said, “would dishearten and anger those who worked so hard to bring about a convention, and probably destroy public support for it.”

As a side note… The task of composing suggested rules for a state-led convention to propose amendments has already been completed by Professor Natelson.  His set of suggested Convention Rules and Procedures is available for review HERE.  The Convention of States (CoS) campaign has also posted Natelson’s work HERE.

For more information on the Assembly of State Legislatures, go to www.TheASL.org.

ALEC Formally Adopts Another Article V Model Resolution –   
During September the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) officially adopted the Convention of States (CoS) application resolution language as one of its model Article V resolutions.

This official adoption of the language by the ALEC Board as model policy language for state legislatures follows a unanimous vote by the organization’s Task Force on Federalism and International Relations at its July meeting in San Diego.

Utah State Representative Ken Ivory, the Public Chair on Federalism for the Task Force, said: “As a member of ALEC and a state legislator, I am extremely excited to see the Convention of States Project making so much headway. Our federal system is no longer functioning as it was designed to, and the state legislatures are the nation’s last hope of restoring it. We need to use the Article V process the Constitution provides for that purpose.”

To learn more, visit www.conventionofstates.com.

New Educational Video Series Released by the BBA Task Force –
The BBA Task Force (BBATF) has released four new brief videos aimed at educating state legislators about the importance of their role in bringing about a U. S. Constitutional Amendment.  Each video is less than 5 minutes long.

The BBATF videos include: “The Case for a Balanced Budget Amendment via an Article V Convention”, “A Comprehensive look at America’s dire economic state”, “The Article V Amendment Process – Application to Ratification”, and “A Thorough Defense of the Article V Process”.  They provide a quick overview of the BBA-focused Article V movement.See or download the videos HERE.

CfA to Join Navy Seals for Special Event in Arizona –
Compact for America Educational Foundation (affiliated with Article V group Compact for America) will be joining the Navy SEAL Foundation at the Inde Motorsports Ranch (Arizona) for a A Republic We WILL Keep event on December 5.

The speed and patriotism-centered event will include a lunch with Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and Lawrence Reed of the Foundation for Economic Education.

For more information about this event, call Deborah Molique at 480-986-5678.

Countermand Effort Gearing Up for 2016 Legislative Sessions –
Leaders of the Countermand Amendment (CA) movement have announced that they now have legislative sponsors for their Article V convention application proposal in 22 states as they prepare for the 2016 legislative sessions.  States they list where legislators have committed to introduce their proposal: AK, UT, AZ, NM, WY,ND, SD, OK, TX, MO, AR, LA, OH, TN, AL, FL, NC, PA, WV, CO, NV and NH.

According to CA leader Charles Kacprowicz (ckacprowicz@citizeninitiatives.org) the Countermand proposal seeks “to enable state legislatures to countermand and rescind federal laws and regulators that encroach on states’ rights and personal liberties”.

To learn more about the CA movement, visit their web site HERE.

NTLC Celebrates 40 Yrs of Work toward Federal Fiscal Restraint –
The 40th Anniversary of the National Tax Limitation Committee (NTLC), led by Lew Uhler was held on October 20 in Washington D.C.  Lew has been working on BBA-related Article V efforts since his work with President Ronald Reagan.

Many prominent Congressional leaders were expected to join Lew for this celebration, including the House and Senate Chairmen of Budget, Finance, and Judiciary Committees.  For more information about NTLC, visit its web site HERE.

New Group Organized to Assist with BBA Drive –
A new group, Committee for a Fiscal Responsibility Amendment (CFFRA) has formed to educate legislators and citizens about the need for a Constitutional BBA.  Founded five years ago as Citizens for a Balance the Budget Amendment Convention, a 501c3 organization, the group has not done much until recently.

This past summer original organizers Alan P. Dye, Rod Smith and Charlie Black began meeting with leaders of the BBA Task Force, a 501c4 group to see how they could work together.  Several prominent individuals joined the group, and this past month they re-organized under the CFFRA name, led by John A. Knubel, former Assistant Secretary and Chief Financial Officer of the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Among the notables brought on board to lead and/or advise the new group are: Admiral Bill Owens (former Vice Chairman of the U. S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and internationally active businessman), Admiral Jim Woolsey (former head of the CIA), John Mumford (former Asst. U. S. Secretary of Labor), Kent Price (noted business leader), Jonathan Conrad (businessman/investor), and Stephen Moore (Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and former Editorial Board Editor, Wall Street Journal).

CFFRA’s stated mission is to educate all Americans, state legislators and members of Congress about: (i) the adverse consequences of America’s growing debt and debt-to-GDP ratio; (ii) the political reasons behind its unsustainable growth; (iii) why the federal government’s current political governance processes are unable to effectively arrest this growth; (iv) how a fiscal responsibility – balanced budget amendment can effectively and safely address these problems and; (v) how, absent unilateral Congressional action to write an amendment before the 34 state Article V application requirement is met, Congress would be required to immediately pass a resolution setting the time and place (“Call”) for the Amendment Convention upon receipt of 34 Article V applications on the same subject.

Support of Article V BBA is Part of Kasich’s Presidential Bid –
Ohio Governor John Kasich spent a lot of time on the road this past year personally persuading state legislators to support BBA-focused Article V applications.  Now as a Presidential Candidate Kasich has dedicated part of his campaign web site to continue pointing out the need for a state-led effort to bring about a BBA.

Kasich’s web site says, “Washington will not balance the budget and keep it balanced unless it is forced to do it. John Kasich will work with Congress to pass a resolution amending the Constitution to require a balanced budget and submit it to the states for ratification. If Congress refuses, he will work with the states to call a constitutional convention to craft an amendment that could be submitted to the states for ratification.”

The Politico blog also recently carried a piece by Daniel Strauss quoting Kasich as saying, “The next president must know how to balance budgets and keep them balanced, because it is the first thing we must do to keep America safe.”

Read more about Kasich’s position on a balanced budget HERE.

US Senator Hatch Calls for Action on a BBA –
On October 8 Utah Senator Orrin Hatch made a speech before the U. S. Senate extolling the need for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U. S, Constitution.  He reminded fellow Senators that “the national debt crisis is growing, it is dangerous, and only the Constitution can compel Congress to tackle it.  We must act before it is too late.”

Hatch stated that “The commitment to fiscal balance over the (nation’s first) 150 years was so strong that many refer to it as our unwritten fiscal constitution.  Unfortunately, that commitment did not last.”  At that time the national debt was 19 percent of GDP.  “Today,” he reminded fellow Senators, “the national debt stands at 103 percent of GDP, literally swallowing the economy.”   

“Eighty years ago, members of Congress began to realize that an unwritten constitution was no longer strong enough to limit the national debt.  Good intentions are not enough to balance the nation’s checkbook.” 

“BBA opponents claim that a BBA will automatically mean cutting this or that program.  Not only is this a cynical approach to a very serious problem, but it’s not true,” said Hatch“A balanced budget amendment will require that Congress finally get serious about priorities and decide which spending is the most important and the most cost-effective.  The importance of long-term fiscal responsibility is more important than any one spending item in the budget.”    

During his time in Congress Hatch has introduced 7 and co-sponsored 20 balanced budget amendments.  Obviously none of them were adopted by Congress.  Hatch acknowledged that “Congress will not balance its budget unless the Constitution requires it”.

Hatch concluded his remarks with: “Continued failure is not an option, and there is only one solution.  We must act before it’s too late.”

‘Plausible Deniability’ Has Come to an End –
Some state legislators have used “plausible deniability” as a defense for not supporting the use of the U. S. Constitution’s Article V and its powers.  “Plausible deniability” is the tactic some legislators have employed to oppose applications for a state-led Article V convention… meaning the legislator claims to not know enough about how Article V works.

As the public has become more aware of the power states have through Article V, it is no longer reasonable for any state legislator or legislative candidate to claim ignorance or to avoid taking a knowledgeable position on Article V proposals.

This monthly newsletter, the Caucus web site (http://articlevcaucus.com/) and the many other links at both sources provide opportunities to all state legislators to be fully informed about the yet-to-be-used powers and tools that the Founders provided to times like today.

US Fiscal Mess Pegged as Potential Trigger for Global Crisis – 

The September 14 edition of London-based The Telegraph carried the headline: US Interest Rate Could Trigger Global Crisis.

It talked about debt levels being danerously high.  It reports that the “venerable Swiss-based BIS… the so-called bank of central bankers” said total debt ratios are now significantly higher than they were at the peak of the last credit cycle in 2007, just before the onset of global fiscal crisis.

The Telegraph reported that “The BIS report said the rich countries have failed to right the ship over the last seven years…”.  It says that “Britain, Spain, and the US have cut household debt ratios but this is still not enough to offset the massive jump in public debt since the Lehman crisis.”

Read the entire article HERE.

“This balance between the National and State governments ought to be dwelt onwith peculiar attentionas it is of utmost importance.
It forms a double security to the people.  …  Indeed, they will both be prevented fromoverpowering their constitutional limits
by a certain rivalship,which will ever subsist between them.”
Alexander Hamilton
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