MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

May 2024 Newsletter

by | May 1, 2024 | AVC Newsletter | 0 comments

Rude Gestures: Why Bipartisanship Must Carry the Day

by Vickie Deppie

Three of the last six issues of the State Legislators Article V Caucus Newsletter have addressed the urgent need to get federal spending under control to avert a chaotic fiscal restructuring that will undoubtedly be felt most acutely by our economically vulnerable neighbors. We know Congress won’t do it: they’ve added to the national debt every single year since 1957. We know Congress can’t do it: any limitation Congress passes legislatively can be repealed by a subsequent Congress.

If fiscal sanity is to be restored to Washington, the states must do it by proposing and ratifying their own constitutional amendment. They’ve known this for a long time. The first Article V application was passed by Virginia in 1788…even before the Constitution itself was ratified! For decades beginning in 1979 there have been 34 or more applications for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment. The requisite number of applications have been in force as recently as 2021. Why haven’t the states had their convention?

It’s tempting to blame a lack of organization, but the states act in concert to sue the federal government on a regular basis. Multiple advocacy organizations have been working to support the states in getting an Article V Convention called, some for decades. The real culprit is much more intransigent: partisanship. It plagues both state legislatures and advocacy groups alike. Look at any of the applications currently circulating among the states and you’ll see both the arguments and votes falling lopsidedly—if not entirely—along party lines. Why?

It’s human nature: most of us find it more comfortable to associate with people who think like we do. But with 29 state legislatures unilaterally controlled by Republicans and 20 by Democrats (each party controls one of the chambers in Pennsylvania), it will be impossible to ratify anything without significant levels of participation from people who don’t think like we do. State legislators will have no choice but to reach across the aisle for the foreseeable future.

Let’s really think for a minute about what that means we as Article V advocates are asking our state legislators to do: join with their political rivals at the state level in extending a rude gesture to their own congressional counterparts and party apparatchiks. Power brokers in Washington DC aren’t going to sit passively by as the states impose reforms on them. State legislators of both parties have already found themselves subject to pressure from their congressional counterparts to block Article V legislation. Why would any state legislator put their political future on the line for an initiative being pushed by people who vilify them every chance they get?

Currently, Republicans control the majority of state legislatures; but given demographic trends, the shoe may be on the other foot before very long. Whichever party is in the majority at any given time will need to take the initiative to focus on amendments that hold appeal for both parties. State legislators should consider temporarily backing away from sweeping and controversial changes like getting our federal budget under control—as important as that is—to focus on a “training wheels” convention: one for an apolitical amendment that is so obviously right and fair that anyone who opposed it would be immediately dismissed as either corrupt or the lackey of someone else who is.

Last month, Florida passed H7055, an application for a convention to propose an amendment prohibiting Congress from exempting federal employees (including themselves) from the laws it makes for the rest of us. Weirdly, even this application was passed on a party-line vote—the only logical explanation for which is interference coming from DC—and underscores the need for state legislators to embrace the fact that this battle isn’t left vs. right: it’s DC insiders vs. the rest of us. Holding this convention will give state legislators a chance to work together across the aisle, dispel the “run-away” convention myth, and produce an amendment that should be a slam dunk for ratification.

With all that behind us, we’ll be able to get some real work done.


Article V News

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University has published a compendium of resources for its upcoming simulated convention for proposing amendments.  These include state profiles, Robert’s Rules of Order, a database of amendments previously proposed by Congress, and supplemental reading that may be useful for anyone who is interested in state-initiated constitutional reform.

The Phoenix Correspondence Commission

The PCC has posted video from its most recent meeting featuring former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on a variety of topics pertinent to federalism. The video may be viewed here.

The next meeting of the PCC will take place on June 14. The keynote speaker will be Dr. David Primo, Ani & Mark Gabrellian Professor of Political Science and Business Administration at the University of Rochester. In addition to his faculty responsibilities and prolific research, Dr. Primo is the founder the Politics and Markets Project, which fosters education, research, and discussion about the appropriate relationship between business and government in the 21st century. Perhaps more importantly, the PMP creates a forum in which proponents of diverse viewpoints can share a stage and discuss critical and controversial issues thoughtfully. Dr. Primo’s testimony to the House Judiciary Committee regarding a fiscal control amendment may be viewed here.

To find out whether your state is represented or learn more about becoming a delegate, please contact Executive Director W. Bruce Lee.

Article V Legislative Activity

Action on Article V legislation has begun to slow as the legislative session draws to a close.

Convention of States Project

In Colorado, HJR 1024 failed in committee.

Term Limits

In Kansas, SCR 1609 failed to meet the supermajority requirement necessary for passage. In Tennessee, HJR 5 has been passed by both the House and Senate.


Media 

Cal Thomas endorses an Article V Convention to impose fiscal controls on the federal government in the Scottsbluff Star-Herald.


Constitution Boot Camp

This month, we continue to focus on Congress with Article I, Section 8: The Powers of Congress beginning on page 12.


Who Said It?

Party-Spirit…is apt to rage with greatest violence, in governments of the popular kind, and is at once their most common and their most fatal disease.

Alexander Hamilton

1795