• ALEC Adopts Model Rules for Future Article V Conventions
• WV Is 28th State to Adopt BBA-focused Application
• Indiana is Sixth State to Adopt the CoS Application
• Compact for America Effort Gains Prominent Endorsement
• Ohio Senator Leads Call to Presidential Candidates
• Dem Congressmen Seek a Balanced Budget Amendment
• Republican Congressman Calls for a Delayed-Action BBA
• Bi-Monthly Article V Report Evidences Progress
• Canadian Publication Reports on US Article V Debates
• State-by-State Tidbits of Article V News
ALEC Adopts Model Rules for Future Article V Conventions –
During December 2015 the Federalism and International Relations Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) proposed a set of recommended basic rules for an eventual Article V convention of states. On March 8, 2016 the ALEC board adopted the recommendations and produced a model resolution.
ALEC is recommending that all states that have adopted (or are considering adoption of) Article V applications also adopt the model resolution to clarify legislators’ expectations about how such a conclave of states will operate as it seeks to propose one or more amendments to the US Constitution.
The model resolution provides that the delegation from the adopting state “to any convention to propose amendments be instructed to vote to incorporate the substance of the following in the rules of a convention to propose amendments.”
The recommended rules include limitations on the subjects the convention may deal with, quorum and voting specifications. The model policy/resolution may be found HERE.
West Virginia Became 28th State to Adopt BBA Application –
On March 12, the last day of its 2016 regular session, the West Virginia legislature adopted HCR36, a resolution applying for an Article V Convention to exclusively consider a balance budget amendment to the US Constitution.
WV Delegate John Overington has been introducing and re-introducing the resolution for the past 30 years. Overington stated, “I am proud that West Virginia has joined with 27 other states to call a limited convention under Article V to force the Federal government to get its fiscal house in order. It is unconscionable that we are leaving our children and grandchildren a legacy of debt and despair.”
According to Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force leaders, momentum is building fast in pursuit of this state-driven amendment designed to reign-in the excessive spending by Congress. Only six more state applications are needed to trigger a BBA-focused single-subject Article V convention.
The WV resolution was approved in the House by a vote of 66 to 27 on the next-to-last day of the WV session. Then it quickly went to the Senate where it passed with a one-vote margin, 17 to 16.
WV Senate Concurrent Resolution 10 adopting the multi-subject Convention of States Article V application was approved on February 23 in the Senate, but it died in the House. Similarly, House Bill 4449, providing that WV join the Compact for America movement was introduced but died in the House.
Related Senate Bill 25, introduced by Senators Karnes, Leonhardt and Blair, providing selection procedure for state delegates to Article V convention died in the House Judiciary Committee,
Leading up to approval of HCR36 several BBA Task Force members spent days showing WV legislators why their state should support the BBA-focused Article V application. Likewise, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) made the voice of small businesses heard.
“We want the West Virginia legislature to pass a resolution, signing off on a convention of the states, signing off on a federal balanced budget amendment,” said Todd Pack, spokesman for the NFIB. The organization believes the federal government, like any business owner in West Virginia, should be required to work only with the money it has. “Congress has had plenty of time to start sticking to a budget and start living within its means, and it’s just not doing that,” Pack said.
The BBA Task Force proposal is still active in this year’s sessions in Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia. To learn more about the three Article V campaigns with a BBA thrust, click on the group names below:
Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force
Convention of State Project
Compact for America
Indiana is Sixth State to Adopt the CoS Application –
In late February the Indiana Senate adopted SJR14, led by prime sponsors Senators Travis Holdman and Michael Young, by a vote of 34 to 16. Then the Indiana House approved the joint resolution by 61 to 36.
That makes Indiana the sixth state to fully adopt the Convention of State Project (CoS) proposal for an Article V convention. The application is “limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”
“We just passed $19 trillion in debt at the federal government level,” said Indiana Senator Holdman, “It’s time for us to get control of our federal government.”
The Indiana action was lauded by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). “The action taken this week by Indiana’s legislature reflects the fast-growing momentum to restore the Constitutional liberty our nation was founded upon,” said Brooke Rollins, president and CEO of TPPF. He also said, “Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s ‘Texas Plan’ sparked a national movement for an Article V convention, and the steadfast efforts of the Convention of States project have been instrumental in this week’s victory in Indiana.”
On March 1, the Utah House approved HJR8 (the CoS measure), sponsored by Rep. Ken Ivory, by a vote of 41 to 33. The bill was sent to the Utah Senate where, in spite of Senator Curtis Bramble’s leadership, it appears to have died. CoS leaders report that their resolution has been introduced in 37 states during current sessions.
The Convention of States proposal is still active in this year’s sessions in a dozen states.
Compact for America Effort Gains Prominent Endorsement –
Respected economist Stephen Moore has become the National Spokesman for the Compact for America (CfA) effort.
“I’ve joined the Compact for America team because of the threat to future economic growth and societal stability posed by unlimited federal spending, taxes and borrowing,” says Moore. “The Baby Boomer generation is retiring at the clip of 10,000 a day and claims on unfunded entitlement programs are swelling. I was not originally a strong advocate of a constitutional change to stop runaway government. But after 30 years dedicated to bringing down spending, debt and tax rates, I have come to the conclusion that it is an impossibility for Congress to solve the problem itself. This is like asking a cat to put a bell on itself. Congress WON’T act without leadership from the states.”
Moore says, “The Balanced Budget Compact is one of the most realistic ways of achieving this goal. It follows the Constitution by advancing an amendment generated by the states that will require balanced budgets with strong tax restraints. It’s simple: a great nation does not borrow $1 trillion a year, year after year. I believe the Compact’s Balanced Budget Amendment is our best chance to permanently change the dysfunction of Washington fiscal policy. It will allow us to cut taxes and reform the tax system – hopefully leading to a flat or a fair tax. Lower spending and debt will grow the economy. The states must rise up and take back power from an imperial Washington.”
Stephen Moore, who formerly wrote on the economy and public policy for The Wall Street Journal, is the Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Project for Economic Growth, at The Heritage Foundation. Moore was also a member of The Journal’s editorial board. He is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, and was also the founder and president of the Club for Growth.
Over the years, Moore has served as a senior economist at the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, and as a senior economics fellow at the Cato Institute, where he published dozens of studies on federal and state fiscal policy. He was also a consultant to the National Economic Commission in 1987 and research director for President Reagan’s Commission on Privatization. Steve is a Fox News contributor along with writing regularly for National Review, Forbes’, Investor’s Business Daily, The Washington Times, and Orange County Register.
The Compact for America proposal is still active in this year’s sessions in seven states. Mr. Moore can be reached at Steve.Moore@CompactforAmerica.
Ohio Senate President Leads Call to Presidential Candidates –
According to a March 10 Sidney (Ohio) Daily News item, Ohio Senate President Keith Faber is spearheading a nationwide effort by state lawmakers and legislative leaders to secure commitments from presidential candidates Donald Trump, Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Ted Cruz, Secretary Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders to restore the balance of power between the states and federal government.
Faber is leading the call from 65 state lawmakers to win support from the presidential candidates for five proposals including restoration of the balance between the States and federal government, and support for the passage of a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution.
Faber said, “The Founding Fathers did not write the Constitution with the intentions of making state governments junior partners. This is why we are seeking all presidential candidates to affirm their belief in the balance of power.”
“Our country was built on the idea of federalism, and sadly states have been severely stripped of their autonomy. It is imperative that our next president restore power and flexibility to the states so they can implement innovative reforms that best serve and protect their citizens,” said Sen. Leah Vukmir, Assistant Majority Leader of the Wisconsin State Senate.
Democratic Congressmen Seek Balanced Budget Amendment –
According to the March 8 edition of the Washington Examiner, a group of conservative US House Democrats is proposing to amend the Constitution with language that in most years would prevent Congress from spending more money than it collected in the previous year.
The balanced budget resolution, HJ RES. 83, initiated by Rep. Brad Ashford, D-Neb., is supported by five other House Democrats, and is reported to be endorsed by the conservative Blue Dog Coalition. Ashford said it is an attempt to eliminate the hundreds of billions of dollars in budget deficits that the government runs each year.
Congressman Ashford says, “In Nebraska, we do not spend money we do not have,” “Washington should work the same way.” He added, “This proposal will change the way we make decisions and will force Congress to prioritize spending. This amendment will address our alarming level of national debt while requiring Congress to make bipartisan compromises. We must move the national dialogue toward greater fiscal responsibility.”
The resolution provides that total spending in any year can’t exceed total federal revenues from the prior year, unless three-fifths of both the House and Senate agree otherwise. In most years, that hurdle would prevent additional spending beyond the prior year’s revenue level.
The detailed proposal does make exceptions, however, for times of war and when economy fails to grow. See the Washington Examiner piece and a copy of the proposed Constitutional amendment HERE.
Republican Congressman Calls for a Delayed-Action BBA –
Freshman Republican Georgia Congressman Barry Loudermilk has introduced what he says “could be the bill of the century”. It is one more Congressional proposal for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. It joins the one reported above and numerous BBA bills submitted this year (and previous years) that never seem to go anywhere.
Loudermilk says his proposal is different because it would not take effect until 10 years after ratification. Reporting on Loudermilk’s latest proposal, the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal noted that such efforts have “always failed. Such an amendment has never been enacted at the federal level.” Read the entire report HERE.
Another edition of the Daily Signal featured a guest commentary by Utah Senator Mike Lee headlined “Preventing America’s Looming Fiscal Crisis with a Balanced Budget Amendment”. In that piece Senator Lee says “The problem isn’t simply that Congress spends more money than it brings in through taxes and other sources of revenue. The problem is that Congress has consistently proven itself to be incapable of exercising fiscal discipline and (is) irresistibly attracted to perpetual deficit spending.”
Lee pointed out that “The U.S. national debt clock website helps put the federal government’s spending crisis into perspective. It shows that our national debt isn’t just astronomically large—it’s also constantly increasing, at a rate of thousands of dollars every second! Saddling future generations with a debt burden of this size is not just fiscally irresponsible—it’s immoral. And yet every recent attempt at spending restraint in Congress has failed.”
Click HERE to read Senator Lee’s March 19 commentary.
Bi-Monthly Article V Report Evidences Progress –
Twice a month the Article V Convention Legislative Progress Report tracks the seven currently active Article V efforts. Georgia attorney David Guldenschch, the report’s author, tracks progress through state legislative committees, floor votes, and full state approval… to award progress points toward completion.
In the six weeks leading up to mid-March, the report showed that the BBA effort has moved from 84% to 89% of completion… the Convention of States effort has moved from 31% to 37%… the Compact for America effort moved from 17% to 18%… the WolfPAC (anti-Citizens United) effort moved from 19% to 23%… and the US Term Limits effort moved from 4% to 5% of completion.
So far this year four states have fully adopted new Article V convention resolutions. See and download the April 1 edition HERE.
Canadian Publication Reports on US Article V Debates –
The February 29 edition of Canada Free Press carried a detailed story on the various grassroots efforts south of the border to amend the US Constitution. Under the heading “States debate Article V convention” the piece did an admirable job recounting current movements.
The author covered everything from Mark Levin’s book that proposed 12 amendments to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Texas Plan that proposed 9 amendments, and touched on the various other less-ambitious Article V proposals. He points out the silliness of seemingly patriotic American groups that oppose use of the US Constitution’s provision that allows state leaders to rein in an out-of-control federal government.
The article notes that “Some groups strongly oppose the movement for an Article V convention of states. Veterans Today, the John Birch Society and the New American website, the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), and others incorrectly attribute (George) Soros as a supporter of the Article V convention of states, plotting to take away (the) right to bear arms. Then after making the false attribution of Soros being a supporter of an Article V convention of states, they list whatever organizations he is affiliated with to ‘prove’ that the convention of states is a conspiracy whose goal is to have Leftist doctrine enshrined in the Constitution. And trying to ‘prove’ that (the) Founding Fathers opposed the Article V convention of states they use a quote from James Madison advising against having another Constitutional Convention, a whole different issue!”
The entire article can be read HERE.
State-by-State Tidbits of Article V News –
Arizona: Senate President Andy Biggs has announced that he will run for Congress in November, to replace retiring Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon. Salmon has indicated he will serve as Biggs’ campaign manager.
Biggs has been an out-spoken long-time opponent of using Article V. Reportedly there is strong support in both Houses of the Arizona legislature for Article V measures, but Biggs has used his position and influence to prevent Article V bills from going to the Senate floor for votes. Should Biggs win his bid for Congress, it could be a whole new day for Article V in Arizona.
Idaho: Senator Curt McKenzie introduced SB1350, a bill intended to set forth a process for selecting delegates to an Article V convention in the event such a convention is held. The measure did not call for a convention.
Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, fearful of “a runaway” convention, warned that the next step if the bill passed would be to join the call for an Article V convention. He has steadfastly opposed use of the Article V provisions to propose Constitutional amendments via a state-led convention.
This is reportedly the fifth consecutive year the Idaho legislature has considered Article V-related bills. SB1350 passed out of the Senate State Affairs Committee on voice vote, but was defeated on the Senate floor by a vote of 12 to 23.
Maryland: An article in the February 29 edition of The Washington Times reported that Maryland legislators are contemplating two quite different uses for the provisions in Article V. One bill calls for a balanced budget amendment (and other restraints on the federal government – HJ0003), and the other calls for an amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s ‘Citizens United’ decision (SJ0002 – called “the Democracy Amendment”).
Delegate W. Anthony McConkey (Republican) said, “In the state, we have to balance the budget every year, and I look at the federal government, time after time, good times or bad times, they spend, spend, spend. If Congress won’t regulate itself, then we need to regulate Congress.”
Meanwhile Democrat Delegate William C. Smith, says his associates want to see a convention called to amend the Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and which recognizes groups’ First Amendment rights to free speech in political campaigns. He says the amount of money being poured into campaigns is distorting elections.
Interestingly both groups insist that fears of a runaway meeting are unfounded, stressing that the states can limit the purpose of a convention.
“We want you to support these if you like the issues and not support them if you don’t like the issues,” said Wylie Burge, Maryland state leader of Wolf PAC, the advocacy group pushing for ‘the Democracy Amendment’. He is reported as saying “Don’t base (support) on fear of the process. Everyone should take a look at the convention and realize it’s a democratic process and put in the Constitution for a very specific reason.”
Missouri: Senator Kurt Schaefer is sponsoring the Convention of States Project proposal in Missouri. Meanwhile Senators Bob Dixon and Jay Wasson are sponsoring legislation in support of the Compact for America effort.
The March 1 Missouri Times reports that Schaefer believes “the (Compact) for a balanced budget will not stick because Congress gets to vote on compacts.”
Schaefer is quoted as saying, “This is a mechanism that has been placed in the constitution by the same people who wrote things we cherished like the First Amendment and the Second Amendment,” Dixon said “Why would we not utilize the tool we have been given out of a false fear that has been manufactured to say, well if we open that convention it could go in a number of directions.”
Read the entire story HERE.
Nebraska: The Convention of States proposal was introduced in the Nebraska legislature by State Senator Laura Ebke. Known as Legislative Resolution 35, it appeared to die in late February, but was resurrected in early March.
The measure was debated in the Senate before opponents succeeded in sending it back to committee, a tactic which typically signals the end is near, according to Senator Dan Hughes. In a surprising move to some, the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee voted to send LR35 back out onto the floor for debate, a move Sen. Hughes said may not have ever occurred before.
“Recommitting legislation to committee is usually a death sentence,” said Hughes, adding that the resolution could see another round of debate this session as a result.
Ohio: Rep. Matthew Huffman, sponsor of the CoS Article V resolution in the Ohio House, has won the Republican primary to replace Keith Faber in the Ohio Senate. Since the Democrats do not have a candidate in that race, Huffman has effectively been elected to replace Farber. Faber, current President of the Ohio Senate is term limited. In November he will be running for a seat in the Ohio House.
Who Said It?
in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”