More good news today, as the Oklahoma Senate passed the Convention of States bill. Since it is far broader than ours, and raises fears of a runaway that ours does not, any chamber which passes CoS will, logically, pass ours. We look very good in Oklahoma, which would be a huge win. My impression, from 1500 miles away, is that Dr. Coburn’s powerful endorsement made the difference. Thank you, Doctor, and may you win your fight with cancer. This may be the most significant service you have performed in your political career.
We passed the West Virginia Senate on a voice vote, will be heard in House Committee tomorrow, and on the House floor Saturday, the final day it can be taken up. This is a little scary, because at this point in a session bills can die for a lot of reasons other than lack of majority support. Republicans haven’t controlled the West Virginia Legislature in about 85 years, and they’ve got a lot on their agenda. We will be competing, in a sense, with a lot of other legislation that they may have prioritized. We may just run out of time. It may depend on where we appear on Saturday’s House Calendar. At the top, good. At the bottom, bad. The Speaker makes the call.
Organizing the Amendment Convention will be a challenge. In organizing a state legislative majority, most of the members know each other. Even freshmen know veterans by reputation. You know who you can trust, and who you can’t. You know who would be competent in leadership, and who would not. 99% of the time it is a partisan organization, and all the members of the majority want their party to look good and retain control of the chamber after the next election.
The Convention is a different animal. I had a good meeting with Alaska Senate President Kevin Meyer in Juneau, and got a positive reaction to the proposal I will be promoting to assist in organizing the Convention. If he was acquainted with legislative leadership in any other state it would be Washington, with all its ties to Alaska. Kevin does not know, or even know of, Washington Senate President Pam Roach. None of these people know each other. Who can they trust?
I believe they should organize around a set of principles, which I intend to assist as a sort of go between. I don’t think organizing around who will be the Chairman of the Convention would work. If a group of 26 states agree to an agenda, they can have a wide open contest for leadership, and may the best person win. To get to 26 you start with a core group, which I think should be the western states, leading off with those west of the 100th meridian. You can get almost half way to 26 with this core. Add in the eastern west, the five states from North Dakota south to Texas, and you’ve got a majority of a majority, say 16 of 26. Pick up ten more in the south, or elsewhere, and you’ve organized the Convention. What you don’t do is have a meeting of the 31 Republican delegations and just see what happens. All must be decided, and votes counted, in advance.
It was nice to be back in Juneau for a day. There are three legislators still serving who were my colleagues when I was last there, 25 years ago. Johnny Ellis, Max Gruenberg, and Lyman Hoffman, an Eskimo from Bethel. I used to play a lot of cribbage with Lyman in the legislative lounge. We were evenly matched, and our games were intense. He was a character. That’s the best thing I got out of my eight years in Juneau.
I made some friends.