That’s what’s up in West Virginia on Saturday. A house subcommittee will consider three bills: the BBA, the Compact, and the Convention of States. Our bill is HCR 36. We believe only one will make it out Here is the contact info on the subcommittee members:
Roger Hanshaw 304-340-3135 firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrick Lane 304-340-3252 email@example.com
Steve Shaffer 304-340-3160 firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve discussed the Compact before. It’s the product of a bunch of deep thinking think tankers trying to create a complicated way for 38 states to agree, in advance, on the exact language of a Balanced Budget Amendment. It’s something that might be worth looking at in a couple of years if the Task Force can’t get to 34. Right now it’s a nuisance, and I doubt will be seriously considered.
The real competition is with the Convention of States (CoS) proposal, which would allow an Amendment Convention to propose multiple amendments, on topics ranging from the BBA, to term limits, and to any Amendment which reduced the power and scope of the federal government. It’s actually the kind of Convention which could do the most good, which is why I testified strongly in its favor in front of the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee. However it has numerous political drawbacks, which makes getting it passed extremely difficult.
First and foremost it includes Congressional term limits. I’m all in on an Article V amendment for Congressional term limits. In the Alaska House, in 1989, I sponsored the first such Article V Resolution in the country, at least that I’m aware of. But it’s not popular in state legislatures, surprisingly enough. I liked it because I wanted to open up a seat to run for. But in places like Wyoming they hate it. They’ve got Enzi and Barrasso in the Senate, and they don’t want to lose them. They’re the smallest state and they want seniority in their delegation. So the CoS is dead in Wyoming, and a lot of other places.
By its nature, CoS encourages talk of a runaway convention. There would be nothing to prevent a CoS Convention from staying in session for months, even years, as it proposed a whole series of Amendments. To me, that’s a feature, not a bug, but most people don’t look at it that way. For if that were to happen, it would be more than just an ad hoc Convention. It would become an institution, albeit a temporary one, which rivaled Congress in its ability to drive the national agenda. Again, to me, that’s a feature, not a bug, but I’m in the minority. That kind of talk scares people.
Guldenschuh and I were on a Heartland Institute cc with Mike Ferris today. Mike and Mark Meckler are the guys behind CoS. We all had a good talk. Mike actually testified in favor of our bill before the Virginia House Committee. Mike also said that we would prevail in any litigation which resulted from Congress aggregating various State Resolutions which had legal imperfections. The courts would stay out of that fight, deeming it a “political” question, and therefor not justiciable. Mike even said he’d volunteer his considerable legal skills to our defense.
To me, the best reason to support a BBA over CoS is that we’re a whole lot closer than they are, and they’re still picking the hanging fruit. We can get there. The only way they can get there is to follow our lead, let us break down the Article V barrier, have a successful Amendment Convention, and prove all the runaway talk is nonsense. Then, and only then, will CoS get to 34.
If you have the time, please consider calling or emailing the Delegates listed above, and asking them to support HCR 36.
AT Editor Thomas Lifson declined to publish my piece on Scalia’s death, for which I thank him. The furor of conspiracy talk is dying down, and let’s let sleeping dogs rest. The best thing to do with Michael Savage is to ignore him.
We passed on first reading in the Wyoming House, 32-28. We still have to go through second and third readings. Last year we won 44-16. We’ve lost twelve votes, and can only lose one more. Second reading tomorrow, third reading on Monday. Work to do.
We lost people like Rep. Mark Jennings, who switched his vote in Committee on Monday. He had no rational reason to vote no, and he knew it. He was caving to political pressure from the John Birch Society, which is surprisingly still strong in Wyoming. They call these guys and threaten to primary them, and they cave. To be polite about it, they lack courage. The Task Force tries to counter with generating calls of support from their districts, with limited success. We just don’t have the resources.
Bill McIlvain will be hard at it in the Capitol the next few days. If I’m half the man he is when I’m his age I’ll be a happy camper.