May 2015 Newsletter

by | May 11, 2015 | AVC Newsletter

  • Progress Slows in Article V Drives
  • ‘Politics Prevailed Over Substance’ in Oklahoma
  • Senator Enzi Acknowledged BBA Applications are at 27
  • JBS Denies Its History, Betrays Its Mission
  • Mississippi State Senator Pens Compelling OpEd
  • CATO Article Underscores Major Federal Deficits
  • Virginia Citizen Leader Laments Failure of Assembly
  • BBA Event to Follow ALEC Savannah Meeting
  • Assembly of Legislatures Cancels Denver Session 
  • GAO Recommends Action to Restore Fiscal Balance
  • Why Utah Called for an Article V Convention

Progress Has Slowed in Article V Efforts –
During the month of April the various Article V movements experienced only modest progress.  Georgia Attorney David Guldenschch tracks Article V-relative legislative progress on a chart that is posed weekly at

In the past month the Convention of States (CoS) effort has moved from 21% of completion to 27% in Guldenschch’s chart due to passage of their bill in one house or the other of a given state legislature.  However no new states have fully adopted the CoS resolution in both houses this legislative year (3 states total now).

For the past month the BBA Task Force effort has been locked at 84% of completion in its goal of reaching 34 state resolution adoptions (27 states).  The Wolf-PAC proposal likewise has not moved from its 20% rating (4 states) in the past month.

The Compact for America drive has dropped from a 17% rating to a 16% completion rating (4 states), down a notch due to a “Do Not Pass” recommendation from an Arkansas Senate committee.

‘Politics Prevailed Over Substance’ in Oklahoma –
During the week of April 20 all the efforts in the Oklahoma legislature to pass Article V-related bills died at the hands of fear-mongering naysayers.

HJR1018 was a House resolution that was an application for a BBA-focused convention of states.  SJR4 was a Senate resolution calling for the Convention of States proposal.  Other Article V-related bills were also being considered by the OK legislature.

Polling of Oklahoma citizens during the legislative debates showed that 90 per cent of Oklahomans supported the BBA proposal.  Business leaders and former OK Congressman Dr. Tom Coburn actively supported one or more of the Article V proposals.

Large numbers of OK legislators supported the AV bills.  Reportedly, four or five OK Senators who had been supporting the BBA-focused Article V resolution “bailed at last second, for cover from JBS.”  Meanwhile, the CoS resolution was defeated in the Oklahoma House by a vote of 56 to 42.

As one observer noted: “A very disappointing result, but exemplary of the political gamesmanship throughout the country surrounding Article V.  Washington corruption is bad enough, but if we are to save this country, our state leaders have to grow a spine.”

Commenting on the BBA proposal, OK Representative Gary Banz reported that “Neither bill (Senate nor House versions) will be heard this session in a final format.  Both will be held over for final action in the second session of the 55th Legislature which will begin in February of 2016.  The bottom line is that politics prevailed over the substance of policy we are seeking to establish.” 

Senator Enzi Acknowledged BBA Applications are at 27 – 
US Senator Mike Enzi (Wyoming) wrote a commentary entitled “Getting Serious about Balancing the Budget” that was published in the May 7 Washington Times.  Enzi is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

He reported that the federal government is taking in record revenues and taxes, yet “our nation is still unable to live within its means”.  He said that “If government programs are not delivering results, they should be improved, and if they are not needed, they should be eliminated”.

He acknowledged, “(L)awmakers in 27 states have passed applications for a convention to approve a balanced budget amendment and new applications in nine other states are close behind”.  Upon reading Senator Enzi’s words, a legislator from another state asked, “Why did the President of the Wyoming Senate stand in the way of (the BBA resolution) passage in Wyoming?”

Read Senator Enzi’s entire Washington Times piece HERE.

JBS Denies Its History, Betrays Its Mission –
In an article written by Ken Quinn and posted on the Convention of States web site on April 15, 2015, Quinn points out that, contrary to recent claims, the John Birch Society was once an avid supporter of using Article V of the US Constitution to seek Constitutional changes.

Quinn’s research documents that back in the 1960s through 1980s JBS leaders Robert Welch and Larry McDonald actively promoted the use of a state-initiated Article V convention.  The amendment that they were then promoting was consistent with the JBS’s mission of limiting government

Read Quinn’s entire article HERE.

Related –
The JBS and Eagle Forum have both used three letters from the late Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger that he issued in the late 1970s as “proof” that an Article V convention would be “dangerous”.  Professor Rob Natelson has just released a new study he wrote called “More Evidence That Warren Burger Was Defending Roe v. Wade When He Opposed A Convention of States”.

The study reveals that Burger was not only grossly under-informed about Article V… his opinion was clearly motivated by his desire to avoid having the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision (which he oversaw) wiped out through the use of Article V.

After the Roe v. Wade decision there was widespread public outrage against it.  As a result, people began looking at Article V as a way to reverse the decision.  By the time Burger wrote the first on his anti-Article V letters 19 states had already adopted resolutions calling for a convention of states to propose a Constitutional amendment to overrule the high court’s controversial decision.  In following years most conservative groups that opposed the Roe v. Wade decision appear to have been unaware that their flaunting of Burger’s anti-Article V writings caused them to lose their best tool to rein in the Supreme Court.

The new Natelson study can be read in full HERE.

Mississippi State Senator Pens Compelling OpEd –
The April 28 edition of the Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi) carried a well-written guest column by MS State Sen. Joey Fillingane.  Fillingane was one of the prime sponsors of that state’s recently adopted legislation making MS the third state to enter the Compact for a Balanced Budget, a consortia of states seeking to advance and ratify a constitutional amendment that would impose a debt limit on Congress.

The Senator notes that every child born today owes a share “of the total ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ debt… more than $700,000.  Imagine starting out life almost three-quarters of a million dollars in debt.  It used to be that parents skimped and saved for their children’s future.  Today we are doing the opposite.  The result will be fewer opportunities and a lower standard of living for our kids.  Perhaps the worst part of all this is that future generations have not been given the chance to vote for or against any of these spending priorities.  Our kids are completely disenfranchised when it comes to the national debt.”

His entire column can be read HERE.

CATO Article Underscores Major Federal Deficits –
“Today we need a BBA more than ever,” says Chris Edwards of the CATO Institute.
“Historical budget data show that federal politicians have become increasingly irresponsible over the years. The bipartisan 19th century belief that balancing the budget was morally proper and economically prudent disappeared during the 20th century.”

The April 10 posting on the CATO web site examines the history of federal debt and states that “the current administration recently proposed a budget that has half-trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see”.

Read the entire CATO article HERE.

Virginia Citizen Leader Laments Failure of Assembly – 
Ken Adams, Chairman of the Waynesboro Virginia Republican Committee, wrote a piece this past month about the need for a state-initiated BBA.  Writing that the 2015 session of the Virginia General Assembly failed to pass a resolution calling for a convention of states, he went on to point out that every member of the General Assembly is up for election in November.

He suggested that Virginia voters “follow the leadership of Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte and support a balanced budget amendment” at the ballot box.  “What Congressman Goodlatte knows,” he said. “is that Congress will never reform itself.  Never.  If Congress is not restrained, unsustainable spending will ultimately wreck the country.”

Adams offered the opinion that “The 2016 session of the General Assembly should approve a resolution for Virginia to join the majority of the States and call for a convention to draft a balanced budget amendment.”

BBA Event to Follow ALEC Savannah Meeting –
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will hold its Spring Task Force Summit in Savannah, GA on Friday May 15 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.  At the same hotel the following day, the BBA Task Force will host a “State Legislative Leaders’ Summit” to push its drive for 34 states to adopt BBA-focused Article V applications.

Speakers and discussion leaders at the BBA “Constitutionally Rebalancing America” event will include Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, Ohio Senate President Keith Farber, Oklahoma State Representative Gary Banz, former South Dakota State Representative Hal Wick, and former Alaska Senator Fritz Pettyjohn.

For more information about the May 16 BBA event contact Scott Rogers, BBA Task Force Executive Director at 904-521-6690.

Denver Assembly Meeting Canceled – 
A fourth meeting of the Assembly of State Legislatures was planned to be held in Denver, Colorado, June 12 through 14.  That meeting has reportedly been cancelled.

A fall meeting is tentatively planned to take place in Utah.  For more info on the Assembly, go to:

GAO Recommends Action to Restore Fiscal Balance –
Leonard Gilroy, director of government reform at Reason Foundation, posted a report entitled “GAO Warns on Federal Fiscal Outlook”.  The report referenced the annual GAO (US Government Accountability Office) Federal Fiscal Outlook released in late April.

Gilroy says “the report suggests that the growing debt and cost of interest will limit the federal government’s ability to respond to future challenges (e.g., financial or natural disasters) and emerging fiscal issues. In short, an already tenuous fiscal situation is set to become increasingly risky in the coming decades.”

The report indicates that “the GAO recommends action to restore long-term fiscal balance, noting that ‘[t]he entire range of federal activities and spending—entitlement programs, other mandatory spending, discretionary spending, and revenue—will need to be reexamined.’ Depending on what projections are used, GAO finds that to close the fiscal gap, either: (1) revenue would have to be 20-37% higher, or (2) noninterest spending would have to be about 17-27% lower (or some combination of the two) on average each year over the 75-year period to keep the debt-to-GDP ratio in 2089 from exceeding the current level.”

Read Gilroy’s entire report HERE.

Utah Senator: Why Her State Called for an A5 Convention –
During March the Utah legislature adopted a BBA-focused Article V application.  Reflecting on that action Utah State Senator Deidre Henderson had this to say:

“Our Utah State Constitution requires the state legislature to balance the budget each year.  And we do.  We have a constitutional debt limit as well, preventing us from borrowing too much money.  We take pride in being the best-managed state in the nation.  It’s not always easy.  There are lots of things we do without, sacrifices and priorities we have to make.  But in the end, it is worth it to bring stability and certainty to our economy, and most importantly our citizens. 

“Contrastingly, each year our national debt grows because of deficit spending.  Right now it tops over $18 trillion.  This debt threatens our prosperity, our national security, and our children.  We’ve called on Congress to control its spending for years, with no success.  The status quo is simply unacceptable.  We cannot maintain the current trajectory forever.”