Nicholas’ problem is the possibility that an Amendment Convention would adopt a rule calling for proportional voting, or voting based on the electoral college. He wants one state one vote, and he thinks the Compact approach would guarantee that. He did acknowledge that the initial vote at the Convention would be one state one vote. He fears 26 states getting together and adopting a rule that screws over Wyoming, and other small states. I argued that a majority of states would be adversely affected by anything other than one state one vote. This didn’t appeal to him. I imagine he was thinking of a situation where small liberal states like Rhode Island and Vermont would sacrifice the power of their own state in exchange for empowering New York, Illinois, and, especially, California.
I pointed out that Republican strength in state legislatures is at an historic high — 31 states under complete Republican control. I assured him that the leaders of these 31 legislatures were quite similar to the leadership in Wyoming, and would be loath to adopt a rule which gave California 10% of the vote at a Convention. This seemed to get some traction.
Bill Fruth and I discussed offering a sunset amendment in the Montana Senate, one which self-rescinds the Resolution on December 31, 2016. It seemed to me that this would appeal to Nicholas, so I made the suggestion. I said we’d been at this for over thirty years, and if we couldn’t get it done next year, it’s just not going to happen. Nicholas may accept the argument that, under current conditions, Wyoming would be protected by the other 30 red states. But for all we know the election of 2016 could reverse the political alignment, and the Democrats could be running the whole show. So a sunset should appeal to him.
The Rules Committee meets tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. to make amendments to the bills. There are signs that Sen. Eli Bebout will offer a sunset amendment, and that Nicholas will be satisfied. He was quoted in a Wyoming paper the other day that he was leaning against our bill because it didn’t guarantee one state one vote. He can tell the media that, with the sunset, and with 30 other red states protecting Wyoming’s equality, he’s satisfied that Wyoming’s interests will be protected. He could say, if he wanted, that because of his concerns, Wyoming will be the first state to pass the bill with a sunset. He will have played a leadership role in protecting the interests not just of Wyoming, but of all the other small states as well.
Fruth and Biddulph were trying to get legislative leaders to call Nicholas and assure him that they and all other legislative leaders they know will not have anything to do with anything but one state one vote. People like Utah Senate President Niederhauser, Ohio Senate President Faber, Georgia Senate Majority Leader Cowsert and a number of others.
I imagine Phil Nicholas will get himself selected as a delegate to the Amendment Convention, and be the delegation’s leader. As such, he’ll have as much power as anyone at the Convention. Everybody seems to acknowledge he’s the smartest guy they’ve got. These calls that he’ll be getting will be from fellow delegates-to-be. It’s a nice introduction to some people he may be working with, that he would want to build some bonds with.
Phil Nicholas did himself a favor.