September 2017 Newsletter

This month…

  • Phoenix Readies for Historic Convention
  • Democrat Leader is New US Term Limits Utah State Director
  • CfA Wins Over Constitutional Scholar Trent England
  • The CoS Project Is Producing Lots of Press Coverage
  • Another Article V Proposal Emerges
  • New ‘Calexiters’ Group Seeks to Use Article V
  • NY Voters to Consider Amending Their State Constitution
  • Additional BBA-Related News

Phoenix Readies for Historic Convention –
Tuesday, September 12 is the day delegates from most US states will convene in Phoenix for the first state-called general (all states invited) convention of states since 1861.  The last such convention was called in an attempt to head-off the civil war.  This one has been called to draft and recommend rules and procedures for a first-ever Article V convention.

The first Article V convention is expected to focus on proposing what is generally referred to as a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution… an amendment intended to impose fiscal restraint on the federal government.  With 27 of the needed 34 states already applying for such a convention, promoters of the effort expect that convention could take place in the next two years.

In mid-August the Los Angeles Daily News carried a story about the upcoming Phoenix BBA Planning Convention with a headline announcing to its readers that a “Constitutional convention is one way to amend a broken system”.

Writer Susan Shelley said, “In recent decades, Americans have been more willing to let the federal government find a way to do anything that seems like a good idea at the time, regardless of the Constitution’s limits on power.  Not coincidentally, the federal government has run up $19 trillion in deb”.

She points out, “Some people think a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget is the solution to this problem, and the only way to accomplish it is to go around Congress with a convention of the states”.   Read her LA Daily News story HERE.  It was also re-published in the Enterprise-Express in Riverside, CA.  See it HERE.

Even the left-leaning Huffington Post has published a story on the upcoming Phoenix convention.  Under the heading “Is Changing The Constitution The Only Way To Fix Washington?”  That publication did a reasonably accurate job of covering the entire Article V movement.

It quoted Arizona State Rep. Kelly Townsend as saying she hopes the Phoenix convention will reassure people that delegates to a convention won’t do anything crazy.  “There will not be a quote-unquote runaway convention,” she said. “That’s not going to happen”.  Townsend heads the Arizona legislature’s committee that is overseeing the convention in Phoenix.

The article also quoted Article V legal expert David Guldenschuh who emphasized, “The mechanism the founders gave for fixing Washington is Article 5.”  The article even includes a chart that lists all the different Article V resolutions states have already adopted… by state.

Labeling the Phoenix convention a “Trial Run” for an Article V convention, the article says, “When Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force co-founder William Fruth imagines a convention, he envisions a moment of national unity, with delegates going out into the country to ask the people for amendment language, high school projects on the issue and serious public discussion. ‘Can you imagine how exciting it will be?’”

According to the Huffington Post article, “Organizers of the Arizona planning convention say that while its primary purpose is to hash out the rules for an official Article 5 convention, they also hope it will assuage lawmakers’ fears.  Although multiple practice conventions have been held before, organized by groups interested in Article 5, the Arizona event will be the first to formally ask every state legislature to send a delegation”.  The full story can be read HERE.

Meanwhile during August…
ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) published an overview of the upcoming Phoenix convention to alert state legislators.  They point out that there have been more than 38 national and regional conventions of the states prior to and since America’s founding.

The ALEC article notes that “Since there has never been a convention (of states) to propose an amendment to the Constitution (an Article V convention), it is appropriate and necessary the states convene to discuss and recommend the rules of procedure for such a convention”.

The Phoenix convention was called by the Arizona legislature when it adopted HCR 2022 on March 31, 2017.  Pursuant to that measure, each state has been invited to send a delegation to the Arizona convention.  The assembly will convene with each state having one vote.  Read the entire ALEC story HERE.

On August 7 The Pew Charitable Trusts organization published an extensive piece on Article V, authored by staff writer Sophie Quinton.  That article focused on the upcoming convention in Phoenix.

Ms. Quinto said, “Organizers of the Arizona planning convention say that while its primary purpose is to hash out the rules for an official Article 5 convention, they also hope it will assuage lawmakers’ fears.  Although multiple practice conventions have been held before, organized by groups interested in Article 5, the Arizona event will be the first to formally ask every state legislature to send a delegation”.  The Pew article can be read HERE.

Constitutional scholar Rob Natelson also wrote an article about the upcoming Phoenix convention that was published August 15 by The Hill.  The article, entitled “How a ‘convention of states’ could tweak the Constitution”, focuses on the fact that such conclaves are a traditional American institution.

Natelson provides a brief history of conventions of states.  Read his article HERE.

Probably the most significant pre-convention article appeared as an op-ed in the 8/30 Washington Times.  The piece, written by David Guldenschuh, appeared under the heading “Rising from the political ashes in Phoenix” subtitled “An Article Five convention could birth a balanced budget amendment”.

Guldenschuh stresses the importance of the Phoenix convention.  He is a policy adviser for the Heartland Institute, presides over the Committee for a Fiscal Responsibility Amendment, is a Georgia attorney, and will serve as a Georgia delegate to the Phoenix convention.

His MUST READ article can be found HERE.

No “amendment convention” has taken place since the Constitution was written over 200 years ago.  But the idea is gaining steam now, stoked by groups on the left and right that say amendments drafted and ratified by states are the last, best hope for fixing the nation’s broken political system and dysfunctional federal government.

To find out if your state is sending delegates to Phoenix, call the Speaker of the House and Senate President of your legislature.  Every state should be represented.  This is not about a right or left agenda.  It’s about the states exercising federalism and resolving national problems that Congress will not solve.  For more info about the Phoenix go to the official  Phoenix convention web site – HERE, or the related BBA Task Force web site HERE.

Democrat Leader is New US Term Limits Utah State Director –
US Term Limits (USTL) has announced that Justin Anderson is their Utah new state director.  USTL is the DC-based nonprofit working to impose term restrictions on members of Congress.

Anderson is the current vice-chair of the Utah County Democratic Party, though he points out that the US Term Limits organization is nonpartisan.  He notes that, “Congress has a re-election rate above 90 percent, while their approval rating, at best, is 20 percent, … And so there’s this major disconnect with those statistics, as well as that 3 in 4 Americans support term limits”.

He will be working to get the Utah legislature to adopt the USTL resolution.  Anderson says part of his work will be to conduct an education tour in cities and college campuses across the state to build support for their movement.

CfA Approach Wins Over Constitutional Scholar Trent England –
A recently released Compact for America (CfA) podcast features an interview with Constitutional scholar Trent England.  During the interview England explains why his previously-held skepticism has been addressed by the Compact approach to Article V – whereby Congress partners with the states to settle in advance all of the questions of the amendment process.

The Trent England interview can be heard HERE.

The CoS Project Is Producing Lots of Press Coverage –
Through numerous speeches and interviews, former US Senators Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint have generated substantial publicity for the Convention of States Project (CoSP) over the last few months.

Their efforts have been supplemented by a large number of guest editorials and letters to the editor across the US.  Typical are a guest column by Dee Stafford entitled “Runaway government must be reined in — and here’s how to do it” in the Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle, the “It’s time to shrink federal government” letter in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, and the “Now is the time for a Convention of States” letter to the editor in the
Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch.

Another Article V Proposal Emerges –
Family Security Matters is a blog that bills itself as “Engaging American families in our nation’s security”.  On August 18 that blog published a commentary by Ronald R. Cherry, MD entitled “Restoration of the American Mind” proposing a 13-point Article V Constitutional amendment.

Dr. Cherry says, “A slow motion, authoritarian, anti-American counter-revolution has sprung up among us.  Don’t be seduced, don’t be confused about its suicidal trajectory, stand firm for your country, for our American Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution, prepare for struggle and sacrifice if it becomes necessary”.

Cherry points out that “State exercise of Article V would become an amendment convention – not a Constitutional convention.  There will be no complete re-writing of the Constitution – only an amendment to the Constitution.  There will be no “runaway” Article V amendment because it only takes 13 State legislatures to stop it.”  Read his entire piece and proposed Article V amendment HERE.

New ‘Calexiters’ Group Seeks to Use Article V –
Large groups of California citizens are unhappy being part of the United States.  There have recently been at least two major efforts launched to enable California to secede from the Union (first known as “Calexit”, then came “Calexit II”).

According to California journalist Ben Boychuk a third effort has been launched, an effort to use Article V (being referred to as the “Cal Con Con”) to amend the US Constitution to enable “a clear and reasonable path for states to achieve complete independence from the United States should any state so choose”.

Boychuk’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek story entitled “Calexit is our state’s latest delusion, all three versions” appeared August 24 in The Sacramento Bee.  Read it HERE.

NY Voters to Consider Amending Their State Constitution –
During November of this year voters throughout New York State will select from candidates for local offices, and will decide if they want a convention to propose amendments to their state constitution.

If voters approve calling of the convention, delegates would be selected during 2018, and the amendment-proposing convention would be held in April of 2019.  Any amendment proposals produced at that convention would be on the NY ballot that year.

The “shall we have a convention” question is automatically placed on the ballot every 20 years.  For the last five decades voters have declined to authorize a convention.  The last amendment-proposing convention in New York was held in 1967.  The full Examiner News.com story about the upcoming NY convention question can be read HERE.  A related story at Press-Republican.com can be read HERE.

Additional BBA-Related News:

Democrat US Senator Comes Out for a BBA –
US Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana, who is seeking re-election in 2018, has released an ad which touts his support for pro-worker trade deals and for a balanced budget amendment.

A story about Donnelly’s ad appeared in the August 21 Washington Times.  Read it HERE.

BBA Group Now Produces a Regular Newsletter –
The BBA Task Force, the primary group promoting the use of Article V to obtain a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, has begun issuing bi-weekly newsletters about its campaign.

The current edition features an important article by David Guldenschuh about the importance of the Phoenix convention of the states..

A copy can be obtained when subscribing to the free well-written, multi-subject publication.  Click HERE to send an e-mail request.

Proposal: No Balanced Budget, No Congressional Pay Raises –
A recent story in the Sunshine State News reports that US Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida is continuing his call to stop congressional pay raises until the federal government has a balanced budget.

Buchanan said “Our national debt is on an unsustainable path.  We are clearly bankrupting our children and grandchildren.  I have no confidence in this Congress – Republicans and Democrats – to do anything on this issue short of a balanced budget amendment.”  Read the article HERE.
http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/vern-buchanan-continues-fight-stop-congressional-pay-raises-until-theres-balanced-budget

CORRECTION:
Our August newsletter carried a report on the July 27 US House Judiciary Committee hearing hosted by Congressman Bob Goodlatte on the need for a balanced budget amendment.  It incorrectly reported that Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute gave testimony at that hearing, and provided a link to his testimony.  The Shapiro testimony was actually given on March 16, 2016 at a similar hearing on the need for a BBA.

Left out of that article was reference to excellent testimony by David M. Primo of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.  His presentation to the Judiciary Committee can be read HERE.

Related –
As the House Judiciary Committee held its hearings, Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby introduced HJR 114 in the US House, a version of a BBA she has proposed multiple times.

In an August 9 op-ed by Congresswoman Roby, entitled “Congress should be required to pass yearly budget on time”, said “I favor is amending the U.S. Constitution to require our government to balance its budget”.

In her op-ed Ms. Roby said “The status quo is simply unsustainable, and the implementation of a balanced budget amendment would set us down a much more responsible fiscal path.  … Instead of a political incentive for politicians to spend irresponsibly, we need a constitutional requirement against it.”  Read her op-ed HERE.

Who Said It?

“We desperately need the power of a constitutional amendment
to help us balance the budget.
Over 70 percent of the American people
want such an amendment.”

President Ronald Reagan

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