From: The Senate Site
To: Ric Cantrell,
Subject: Senate Site: Hope
Date: Fri Dec 27 12:06:08 MST 2013

Senate Site: Hope

Link to The Senate Site


Posted: 26 Dec 2013 08:10 AM PST

By Wayne Niederhauser
President of the Utah Senate

Washington, D.C. is not in a good situation and may lack the ability to bring itself under control.  As I’m writing this, the national debt sits at $17,224,160,000,000 and  is rising.  Congress hasn’t passed a budget in years, and the federal government continues to assume more and more power.  We’ve witnessed the arrogant disregard of principles most Americans value – like fiscal prudence and responsibility, individual liberty, and local self government.  The Founders intended that in situations like this, the states would step in – but is that possible?

James Madison said, in 1789:

“The State Legislatures will jealously and closely watch the operations of this Government, and BE ABLE TO RESIST WITH MORE EFFECT EVERY ASSUMPTION OF POWER, THAN ANY OTHER POWER ON EARTH CAN DO; and the greatest opponents to a Federal Government admit the State Legislatures to be sure guardians of the People’s liberty.”  - James Madison, Introduction of the Bill of Rights, The Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, First Congress, 1st Session, 448-460, 1789 (emphasis added).

Most people understand that Congress is authorized to amend the Constitution when a proposal is approved by 2/3 of each house of Congress and then ratified by 3/4 of the states.  There is, however, a second way to amend the Constitution:  when 2/3 of the states tell Congress to call a Convention for proposing Amendments, also known as an Article V Constitutional Convention.  We’ve avoided doing so up to this point, because no one wants a runaway convention – but what if there were rules in place, carefully written and meticulously reviewed, to prevent that from happening?

A few weeks ago, in Mount Vernon, Virginia, I participated in a very interesting meeting of nearly 100 state representatives and senators from 32 different states.  Our purpose was to discuss and consider a Convention of the States in 2014 that is solely focused on the task of writing rules for an Article V Convention. We analyzed the instructions defined in the Constitution and drafted an agenda for a Convention of the States to Write the Rules.

Imagine an America where the People, through their local state governments had another mechanism at their disposal to stop federal ignorance, arrogance, greed, incompetence and abuse, as the Founders intended.

More info and insight will come later.  For right now, I want Utah citizens to be aware of this potentially historic process, and share with you the agenda, the draft of rules and procedures to define, and the Resolution that we passed (with some amendments and tentative dates).

Special thanks to Indiana Senate President David Long, Wisconsin’s Representative Chris Kapenga, and too many others to name for getting this ball rolling.


Resolution of the Mount Vernon Assembly to Prepare for a Convention of the States  to Write the Rules

Whereas, the historical record reveals states assembled on many occasions, by way of a convention of the states, for the purpose of discussing and resolving issues of common concern, including the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 whereby the U.S. Constitution was drafted, and,

Whereas, Article V of the U. S. Constitution provides for a convention of the states for the purpose of proposing amendments, upon the application by two-thirds of the states, and,

Whereas, interest in convening a convention of the states under Article V has grown among the legislatures of the states, and,

Whereas, the states agree that if such a convention should be convened, it should function in an orderly and prudent manner, and

Whereas, the U. S. Constitution does not enumerate the power to define such rules and procedures to the federal government, and

Whereas, the states, united, desire to act on the authority, duty and responsibility to define the rules and procedures of any Article V convention for proposing amendments,

Therefore be it resolved,

Section 1: The Mount Vernon Assembly herby respectfully requests each speaker of the house and each senate president in each of the states, or in the case of Nebraska, the speaker, to appoint and authorize the persons and resources necessary for a meeting to be held the 3rd ,4th and 5th day of December, 2014 at a location to be determined in Section 2. This meeting is to be referred to as the United States Rules Drafting Conference (hereafter “the Conference”).

The purpose of the Conference is to draft the identified rules and procedures listed in Section 3, as well as any other items the Conference deems necessary and appropriate to the proper functioning of any future conventions of the states, including an Article V Convention for Proposing Amendments.

Section 2: In preparing for the Conference, the Mount Vernon Assembly hereby respectfully requests each speaker of the house and each senate president in each of the states to appoint one representative of their respective body, or in the case of Nebraska, the speaker to appoint two representatives of the unicameral legislature, to a two-day planning meeting convening at 1:00 PM on the 1st day of May, 2014, at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. This planning meeting is for the expressed and limited purpose of forming and approving committees to execute the planning of the Conference.

Section 3: This Assembly hereby requests the Conference to address the following items as part of its proceedings:  (TBD — see Mount Vernon Agenda, Appendix A – link below)

Section 4: The Secretary of the Mount Vernon Assembly is hereby instructed to transmit a formal notice and invitation to the legislative leaders identified in Section 1, and to tabulate acceptance of participation by the states.


During the meeting, Rep. Ken Ivory from Utah requested that in addition to the committees mentioned in Appendix A, there also be a ‘Style Committee’ responsible for issues of consistency of style.  This amendment was accepted.

Here’s the resolution, agenda, and Appendix A (4 page PDF).

This might be exactly what we need. I invite you to keep a close eye on this potentially consequential and historic process – and help spread the word.  The next meeting will be in May, then another in December.


Links and a few tweets:

Northwest Indiana Politics, 10/26/13: Indiana Senate leader working toward U.S. constitutional convention

The Blaze: Gaining Steam? Nearly 100 Lawmakers Descend on Mount Vernon to Talk Convention of States

The Maine Wire: Constitutional Convention movement growing in states

Forbes: The Big Political Story Of 2016 Will Not Be About Who Replaces Obama State legislators call Mount Vernon Assembly productive, plan next steps