A draft

The first section of the Seattle Resolve, dealing with the traditional BBA, is incomplete. It should include restrictions on taxation and allow for reduction of the debt. Signatories who wish to include such provisions in the Amendment should be free to do so.

A Resolve

Whereas 27 states have passed Resolutions calling for an Amendment Convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, and

Whereas the fear of a runaway Convention, one which attempts to exceed the bounds of the Convention call, is preventing passage of such Resolutions in a number of states, and

Whereas the most convincing argument against the possibility of such a runaway Convention would be the formation of a Majority Coalition which would control the proceedings of the Convention, and

Whereas the foundation of the Majority Coalition should be a specific and limited agenda for the Convention combined with a pledge that no additions or expansions of the agenda will be allowed, and

Whereas the undersigned are elected state legislators who will participate in the selection of, and the instructions for, the delegation to the Convention from their state,

Now, therefor, be it resolved that the proposed…

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A draft

A Resolve

Whereas 27 states have passed Resolutions calling for an Amendment Convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, and

Whereas the fear of a runaway Convention, one which attempts to exceed the bounds of the Convention call, is preventing passage of such Resolutions in a number of states, and

Whereas the most convincing argument against the possibility of such a runaway Convention would be the formation of a Majority Coalition which would control the proceedings of the Convention, and

Whereas the foundation of the Majority Coalition should be a specific and limited agenda for the Convention combined with a pledge that no additions or expansions of the agenda will be allowed, and

Whereas the undersigned are elected state legislators who will participate in the selection of, and the instructions for, the delegation to the Convention from their state,

Now, therefor, be it resolved that the proposed Amendment from the Convention will contain the following provisions, and no other:

1) Spending and debt limitations for the federal government

2) Transfer of federal lands to the states, provided such transfer aids in balancing the federal budget

3) Regulatory reform, for the purpose of reducing federal expenditures and increasing federal revenue.

In witness whereof we sign our names, and pledge our word, in Seattle, Washington on August 3rd, 2015.

The Seattle Resolution

The Reagan Summit should have as its goal a Resolution, signed by the representatives of the states in attendance, in which the signatories pledge to do all in their power to assure that their delegation to the Amendment Convention will support proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment containing three, and only three, elements, to wit:

1)  Limitations on federal spending and debt

2)  Transfer of federal lands to the states, excluding military installations, National Parks, Indian Reservations, and property necessary for the functioning of the federal government, provided such transfer generates revenue to the United States Treasury, or reduces federal expenditures

3)  Regulatory reform, provided such reform results in increased revenue to the Treasury or a reduction in federal expenditures.

The exact language of the Resolve will be decided at the Summit, of course, but I think this is a place to start.  This way we’ll have a concrete goal.  We’re not meeting just to meet.

We’ll call it the Seattle Resolution, I guess.  I think of it as the Bart Davis Resolution.  If there are enough signatures on it, from credible representatives of 26 states, how can he believe there could be a runaway?  I want Bart to explain how that could happen.  And I want Andy Biggs of Arizona there as well.  Let’s see if Andy can come up with a remotely plausible runaway scenario.

These guys remind me of me and my friends when we were adolescents.  We’d come up with these cockeyed ideas, ideas that, technically, could be true.  They were kind of crazy, but you couldn’t prove they weren’t true.  I gave up that kind of thinking when I was fourteen.  These guys need to grow up, and think like men, not some dopey teenager.  Men make decisions based on their best judgment of the facts available.  They don’t sit around fantasizing about fairy tales.  And they’re strong enough to deal with the consequences of their decision.

You either believe in the people of this country or you don’t.  If you don’t, you’ve given up on it.

We haven’t.

Knowledge is good.

I picked some up in Boise, which will mean more discussion will be needed at the Reagan Summit on the manner of transferring federal lands to the states.  Speaker Scott Bedke explained to me that while 63% of their land belongs to the feds, it is so mismanaged that they spend as much as $200 million a year fighting fires on it.  Idaho manages, correctly, two million acres of its own.  Because it is properly managed, very little is needed for fire suppression.  Idaho will want its land gradually, so that they don’t suddenly wind up with a $200 million firefighting expense.  This can all be worked out by the Federal Land Commission, of course, but it will take time.  The way I see it each legislature would pass a Joint Resolution (not subject to veto  — we’ll leave the governors out of this) listing the lands it wants, and the terms and conditions of the transfer.  The Commission will make the decision, always based on the criteria of balancing the budget.  We need revenues to the Federal Treasury, and/or reductions in federal spending.  I thought the Commission would be able to wrap up its work in two years.  It may need longer.

I chose Alaska as the first state to approach, and Washington the second, for what I thought were good reasons.  I went to Idaho only because we thought me might still have a shot there this year.  That turned out not to be true, but the House leadership was extremely receptive to the idea of the Reagan Amendment.  All’s well that ends well.  Oklahoma will be the next state, because, again, we think we’ve got a real shot there this year.  Injecting the Reagan Amendment into the conversation might help.  It won’t hurt.  Sponsor Gary Banz will make the call.  We didn’t have any time in Idaho.  We’ll have almost two months in Oklahoma.  The real appeal of the Reagan Amendment is that it can be the agenda around which the Amendment Convention organizes itself, later this year, perhaps in August at the Reagan Summit.  That won’t be done before Oklahoma adjourns, however.

The other reason to do Oklahoma next is because of Gary Banz’s close involvement with the Assembly of Legislators.  I don’t expect them to endorse the Reagan Amendment, by any means.  But we want to work cooperatively with them.

Alaska legislators have had money to burn for the last 35 years.  But the well is running dry, and they’re starting to cut their budget.  Just a little.  It’s just so darn hard.  If Alaska gets its land from the Reagan Amendment they can put it off for another twenty years or so.

It’s good to be an Alaskan.

Three down, 23 to go

Suzie Budge got me in to see Speaker Bedke, with Ways and Means Chairman Christy Perry and a couple other House members.  Earlier I’d run the Reagan Amendment by Sen. Marv Hagedorn, who will be at the Summit.  Bedke gets it.  He won’t be able to get to Seattle, so he assigned Christy to go on his behalf, just as he asked her to carry the BBA bill.  One of the House members turned out to be Majority Leader Mike Moyle.  He asked how many people I wanted at the meeting, and I said the more the merrier.  So he wants to go also.  They’ll get some Senators, in addition to Hagedorn.  I stressed the desirability of getting Sen. Davis to attend.

We won’t get action in the House this year.  Mike Ferris was in to see Bedke last Friday, and got him to agree not to bring anything to the floor this year.  He sold him a bill of goods, convincing him that next year he will generate so much grass roots support in Idaho that CoS, as well as the BBA, will sail through.

We weren’t going to get by Davis in the Senate anyway.  He killed the Delegate Limitation Act, with a lot of wild talk about a runaway.  He was heavily quoted in the papers, and has got himself way out on a limb.  We don’t want to saw that limb off.  We want him to climb back down, which will happen if he goes to the Summit.  We won’t convince him that a runaway couldn’t happen.  We’ll prove that it won’t.

Bedke encouraged me to coordinate with incoming NCSL President Curt Bramble, the man who carried us through the Utah Senate.  I assured him that will be the case.  He also suggested working with the Assembly of States.  That hadn’t occurred to me.  It’s an excellent idea, and I will follow through.

I’m feeling more confident of getting the support from Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and even Montana.  That would be ten states.  If we get Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli of Oregon, we’d be at eleven, and ready to invite the six western states, running from North Dakota down to Texas. that don’t have a lot of federal land.  I think we can get them all.  At seventeen you’re nine short, but within sight of a majority.  I’ll bet Joe Harrison of Louisiana, Bill Cowsert of Georgia, Dennis Powers of Tennessee, and Larry Grooms of South Carolina can get us most of the South.  Add West Virginia and Kentucky and you control the Amendment Convention.  All are welcome to the Reagan Caucus.  We want more than 26.  I’d like 34.  38 would be better.

The Reagan Amendment is a good idea.  Good ideas are a dime a dozen.  Turning an idea into reality takes a lot of work.  More than I’m personally capable of.  Knowing I have the legislative leaders of Alaska, Washington and Idaho as part of the team means I’ve got help from some very capable people.  More help is coming, as we expand the circle.  I’m free for the next two months, so we’ve got time.

Chisty Perry is a very attractive woman.  Not that many of those in politics.  She reminds me of Alaska State Senator Jan Faiks.  We were both conservative Republicans, elected from the same two member district in 1982.  I got gerrymandered out of my seat.  She reached an understanding with the Governor and kept hers.  But Jan violated one of Clint Eastwood’s Rules of Life: a man’s got to know his limitations.   Power went to her head.  She used her looks, and her sex,  to get elected Senate President, and her sense of entitlement brought her down.  We successfully primaried her, and now she’s a lobbyist in D.C. working, I believe, for the coal industry. I could never bring myself to personally dislike Jan.  She just got in over her head.  She’s going to like the Reagan Amendment.

I’m having fun.  It’s good to be alive.