May 2023 Newsletter

by | May 1, 2023 | AVC Newsletter | 0 comments

“Our last best hope for the country…A new convention, I believe, would be a very good thing.” 

by Vickie Deppe 

No, this isn’t a statement from an Article V activist; it’s a quote from John Davenport, Professor of Philosophy and Peace & Justice Studies at Fordham University published in USA Today. In what may be a journalistic first, a reporter for a liberal-leaning legacy publication has provided fair—even positive—coverage of a major Article V initiative. The article, featuring comments from Professor Davenport and Convention of States Project Senior Advisor Rick Santorum, moves beyond whether a convention should occur and instead centers on what should be on the table. 

This article contains three key takeaways for Article V advocates: 

  • We must pursue genuine bipartisanship. 

The high bar of ratification provides little comfort to those who believe they will have no meaningful impact at an Article V Convention. Professor Davenport is not alone in his assessment that a convention perceived as driven by the concerns of one party to the exclusion of the other could produce “great resentment.” The time has come to stop trying to assuage naysayers and instead focus on backfilling them with legislators from the other side of the aisle. Republicans—who may be in the majority if the convention occurs within the next few years—should take the initiative to advocate for supermajority votes at the convention and begin a sincere dialog with colleagues from across the political spectrum to find amendments that can secure the broad support necessary for ratification…because federalism is good for everybody. 

  • It’s time to reframe the discussion. 

Professor Davenport seems to be under the mistaken impression that the last time we came close to having a convention was at the turn of the 20th century when support for the direct election of senators was gaining momentum. In fact, applications for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment reached and sustained the necessary 34-state threshold for decades beginning in 1979. Congress sidestepped its obligation to call the convention by passing the impotent Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act. It’s not left vs. right. It’s DC insiders vs. the rest of us. 

  • A general convention has great potential to bridge the partisan divide.  

Professor Davenport believes that a “narrow focus will prompt more left-leaning states to turn away.” He explains that “pre-scripting” the convention muzzles certain viewpoints. He instead advocates “a more open-ended convention call that allows open debate on a broader range of common consensus topics that will have appeal to Americans outside of…staunch conservatives.” The high bar of ratification and our centuries-long history of orderly interstate conventions tell us that a general convention is every bit as safe as a limited one. 

Professor Davenport’s new book, The Democracy Amendments: Constitutional Reforms to Save the United States is scheduled to be released this month.  

Article V News

United States Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) has filed SB 810 requiring Congress to enter Article V applications and rescissions into a searchable database within 90 days of transmittal by the state.  

In North Carolina, the Convention of States Project (CoSP) application passed in the House and awaits a committee hearing in the Senate. A Senate rendition also awaits a committee hearing. In Iowa, the Senate State Government Report was unanimously in favor of passage, though the Committee appears to have no members of the minority party.  In Kansas, the measure failed to secure the 2/3 supermajority necessary to pass, and it died in Maryland awaiting a committee hearing. The CoSP application continues to await committee action in Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island

An application for a convention to propose a term limits amendment has passed in Oklahoma. A term limits application has been filed in North Carolina. In Arizona, HCR 2016 failed on the floor. 

SP 705, a single resolution calling for both a term limits convention and a campaign finance reform (Wolf-PAC) convention, has been filed in Maine. 

Delegate selection and oversight (DSO) measures have passed in Arkansas and Oklahoma.  In the Missouri House and Senate, bills have emerged from committee and have been placed on the Informal Perfection Calendar. Nebraska’s LB 195 has been delayed for consideration until June. In Montana and Texas, DSOs has been passed in the Senate and moved to the House. In New Hampshire, HB 392 and HB 269 have passed in the House and are pending in Senate committees. A DSO has been filed in the Pennsylvania House and awaits a committee hearing. In Mississippi, HCR 22 failed in committee. 

Phoenix Correspondence Commission Receives Government Recognition 

The Phoenix Correspondence Commission (PCC), created in 2017 at the first convention of states since 1861, achieved another, meaningful milestone in April, receiving formal recognition as the governmental entity representing the states on federalism and Article V matters and an official “.gov” domain. 

Executive Director W. Bruce Lee notes, “We are excited to receive this recognition as a government entity. It took months of intensive background checking by the conferring agency. I’m also pleased that states are eagerly contacting us as to how be involved in the important work of the Commission. The states are stronger together in balancing authority with the federal government.” 

In addition, the PCC unveiled its new logo: 

Who Said It?

Fear is a reaction; courage is a decision. 

Winston Churchill