An A5 Update for State Legislators
The following update on Article V activities in legislatures across the US comes from the official Newsletter for the bipartisan State Legislators' Article V Caucus. It is being sent to you as a service of the BBA Task Force.
The fifth Article (Article V) of the US Constitution provides two ways for proposing amendments to the Constitution. The second method is where state legislatures are given the power to correct the shortcomings of the federal government.
James Madison (in Federalist No. 58) said: "An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others." And in Federalist 85, Alexander Hamilton said: "We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority."
State legislators wanting more information about the Caucus may visit: www.ArticleVCaucus.com.
Newsletter edition 17, June 2014
- Mount Vernon Assembly Gets a New Name
- Louisiana Adopts 24th BBA-Focused A5 Application
- A Progress Report on Article V Activities
- Texas GOP Adopts Platform Plank Supporting Article V
- Florida Outlines Protocol for Article V Delegate Selection
- Citizens Getting Involved in Push for Article V Convention
- Herman Cain Announces Support for Use of A5
- Links to Important Article V-Related Documents
105 Legislators Attended Second Mount Vernon Assembly
Thirty-three states were represented at the June 12-13 Mount Vernon Assembly... described as a planning session. The group, initially named for the place of its first meeting (last December), is now known as The Assembly of State Legislators.
For the most part, attendees were selected by their state's legislative leaders. They had to go through a "credentialing" process and security before being allowed into the Indiana Statehouse Chamber. There had been some pre-meeting threats, so security measures were strict. Fortunately, security issues did not materialize.
After opening comments by Ohio Rep. Matt Huffman, the bipartisan meeting was turned over to Assembly co-chairs Kenneth Marshall (Rep - RI) and Chris Kapanga (Rep - WI) who broke the Assembly into three committees.
The initial committees (Rules & Procedures; Judiciary; Planning, Communications & Finance) were each given a printout of Committee Responsibilities. Depending on the committee, that sheet listed 10 to 13 items (questions) the committee was expected to address, to assist a future Article V convention of states.
Many of the wide-ranging questions have already been answered by historical research, but for the most part they have never before been subjected to review and authentication by any authoritative group of political leaders such as the Assembly.
On the second day of the Assembly the delegates formally elected committee chairs and co-chairs. They also considered an initial set of recommended rules for a future Article V convention. No specific amendment proposals were discussed.
The bipartisan group also adopted a resolution calling for another meeting (probably in early December, probably for 3 days this time, and maybe in Georgia), with committee work to continue between now and then. Their goal is to be able to consider adoption of specific proposals at their next meeting.
New Web site: www.theassemblyofstatelegislatures.org/
Louisiana Adopts 24th BBA-Focused Article V Application
On May 15th Louisiana became the 24th state to adopt a BBA-focused application for an Article V convention of the states. The LA House had earlier passed the joint resolution (HCR 70), by a vote of 89 to 0. Then the LA Senate approved the application by a vote of 36 to 0... making LA the first state to unanimously adopt the Article V application.
Progress Report on Article V Activities
This is a summary of Article V-related activity across the US in the past year:
The BBA Task Force:
In just the past 8 months single-subject BBA-focused Article V applications have been fully adopted in OH, TN, MI, GA, FL and LA. The Task Force now reports it has 24 valid state applications toward the 34 needed. BBA-focused applications have also been approved in one house in both AZ and WI.
More info at: http://www.bba4usa.org/. David Biddulph, firstname.lastname@example.org, 386-478-9304.
Citizens for Self Governance:
The Convention of States (CoS) project by Citizens for Self-Governance is now 10 months old. In that time the group has seen its multiple-subject application filed in 14 states, with one still expected to be filed this year (NJ); had their application adopted in 3 states (AK, FL, and GA); had their application approved in one house in 2 more states (AL and AZ); and has been formally defeated in only 1 state (VI).
They report that they now have over 100,000 supporters, 16,500 volunteers, 84 national grassroots leaders appointed in 38 states, and District Captains organizing in 447 state legislative districts across the country.
More info at: http://conventionofstates.com/, E-Mail: email@example.com. 540-441-7227.
National Debt Relief Amendment:
ND and LA have adopted Article V applications calling for the National Debt Relief Amendment (NDRA)-worded constitutional amendment ("An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the separate States."). That campaign has been in operation since 2011. NDRA leaders report they have potential legislative sponsors in AR, CO, ID, KS, MT, NE, OH, SD, TX, and WY.
More info at: http://restoringfreedom.org/. Former ND State Senator Curtis Olafson is their National Spokesman. 701-265 2356. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Compact for America:
The Compact for America (CfA) campaign relies on Article V for its activating authority, although it is really an interstate compact. The campaign started during 2012. The CfA proposal has been adopted by the GA legislature. The proposal has been adopted by one house in AK and AZ.
More info at: http://www.compactforamerica.org/. (713) 808-1900 Ext 206. Chip DeMoss at Chip.DeMoss@CompactforAmerica.org and Nick Dranias at Nick.Dranias@CompactforAmerica.org.
The Vermont legislature has adopted an Article V convention application authored primarily by Harvard Law Professor Larry Lessig. Campaign leaders report that their proposal has also been adopted by the House in CA, and the Senate in IL. Last month this Newsletter incorrectly described Vermont's application as a "general" one that simply called for an Article V Convention, with no subject matter defined. However the Vermont application calls for a convention "for the sole purpose of proposing amendments ... that would limit the corrupting influence of money in our electoral process ... overturning the Citizens United decision."
More info at: www.wolf-pac.com, Mike Monetta - 603-812-8173.
Texas GOP adopts Platform Plank Supporting Article V
In early June a total of 5,941 delegates and alternates at the 2014 Texas Republican State Convention held in Fort Worth voted to "urge the Texas State Legislators to take the lead in calling for an Article V Amending Convention of States."
Florida Outlines Protocol for Article V Delegate Selection
On June 2, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law H.B. 609 which establishes methods for selecting and instructing future Article V convention delegates. The Florida legislature had just adopted HM 261 and SM 368 calling for a BBA-focused Article V convention.
The new law will allow both the House and Senate to appoint delegates and alternates to an Article V convention, whenever one is called. It requires the legislature to adopt a resolution from both the House and Senate providing instruction to those delegates.
All of the delegates will be required to swear an oath to support the constitutions of both the United States and Florida, and abide by all the instructions of the legislature. If a Florida delegate does not follow those instructions, their vote would be voided and their appointment to the convention would be forfeited. They also could be charged with a third-degree felony. Similar legislation has also been adopted in IN, UT, GA and TN (where the measure is awaiting the Governor's signature).
Citizens Getting Involved in Push for Article V Convention
Typical of many US citizens, recently Colorado Physician Stan Jack began to recognize that "unless we all start to push back, big government will destroy this country." That led him to start writing a blog that... from an everyday citizen's viewpoint... encourages support for an Article V convention of states.
He says, "I have three children I need to help preserve freedoms for. I'm not going to let anyone 'sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.' I believe we must win the soft war, because a hard reset probably would not result in another Constitutional Republic."
Dr. Jack contends, "It is time to restore our Constitution and our liberties, and re-establish federalism in order to have more local control and accountability in our government!"
Read his insightful commentaries (particularly his April 15 and May 6 posts) at: http://tipofthespear.net/spearofliberty/author/doctorstan/.
Herman Cain Speaks at Charleston SC Article V Event
On May 17 a large crowd gathered on the USS Yorktown (decommissioned aircraft carrier) at Charleston, SC to hear former presidential candidate and radio talk show host Herman Cain endorse the efforts toward an Article V convention of states. He was joined by TN Representative Dennis Powers and SC Senator Larry Grooms.
The thrust of the event was using the Article V provision to require a balanced federal budget, to abolish the IRS and replace the tax code, and to compel the federal government to follow the Constitution.
Important Current Article V-Related Documents
An important new essay entitled "Our Constitutional Moment" has been written by Dr. Tyler Watts of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation. The heavily footnoted essay makes clear why the only way to reign-in federal over-reach and out-of-control spending is through the use of Article V.
Read or download it at: http://inpolicy.org/2014/05/watts-our-constitutional-moment/
One of America's foremost Article V experts, Rob Natelson, has released a 338-page guide for state-initiated Article V applications. This Compendium is must reading for legislators and lawyers involved in activities preparatory to the calling of a convention for proposing amendments. It contains textual exegesis, relevant legal authorities, and sample forms.
Natelson is the Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Independence Institute in Denver...Download the Guide at: http://constitution.i2i.org/files/2014/04/Compendium-2.2.pdf.