The last time the Republicans held the Kentucky House was 1921. They’ve never had the State Legislature and the Governorship at the same time, until now. They convened one week ago, and they have quickly demonstrated they know what they want to do, and they know how to get it done. This level of legislative competence is the result of weeks of planning and consultation. I’ve no doubt that Gov. Matt Bevin deserves a lot of credit for bringing everyone together.
They decided to do the hard stuff first. Get it off the table, and don’t allow the opposition time to jam the works. So in the first six legislative days they (1) became the nation’s 27th Right to Work state, (2) abolished the Kentucky version of Davis-Bacon (requiring union wages on State jobs), (3) passed a restrictive abortion law, and (4) threw out the Board of Trustees of the troubled University of Louisville, allowing Gov. Bevin to appoint new ones. Now they’re in adjournment until early February. The State Constitution only gives them 30 legislative days this year, so time is at a premium.
Senate President Stivers is an ardent and seasoned advocate of the Article V BBA, and he has designated a Senate sponsor. Our Resolution has passed the Kentucky Senate in the past, and we have a 64-36 split in the House. Based on its first week’s work, you can say with confidence that the Kentucky legislative leadership will pass what it wants to pass, and it wants the BBA. We should get Kentucky in early March, at the latest. Wyoming and Idaho should be done by then as well. Arizona should be close behind, and there’s no reason Wisconsin can’t complete its work by then as well. When that happens, no later than April, we’ll be at 33, and all eyes will be on South Carolina, Montana and Minnesota. Virginia, unfortunately, will have adjourned.
Once we get to 33 someone will notice what we’re up to. If not, I’ll perform the ancient Japanese rite of seppuku, and disembowel myself. I can’t entirely blame the media for the neglect. The Obama/Trump transition is the story of the month, and all the action seems to be in D.C. But we will get noticed eventually, and it can’t happen soon enough for me.
My anticipation is based on my interaction with the California liberals I occasionally associate with. They’re pretty normal people, except for their politics. These people like the BBA, a lot. And I think a whole lot of rank and file Democrats are going to ask themselves, and their political representatives, “With Trump and the Republicans running Washington, why wouldn’t we want to rein them in with a Balanced Budget Amendment?” I have a very strong hunch that Democratic State Legislators in Maryland, New Mexico and Nevada will not want to rescind their outstanding Article V applications. Is it really good politics to be opposed to balancing the budget?
There’s always the boogie man of the runaway convention, but five of the most Democratic States in the union – Vermont, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Illinois and California – have passed Article V Resolutions to overturn Citizens United. If those five State Legislatures realize the runaway argument is specious, what’s the problem?
Since he won the election I haven’t heard Trump, or anyone associated with him, say one word about federalism, about returning power to the States, and the people. The whole concept may never cross his mind. He’s in charge of the federal government, so why should he try to reduce its, and his, power? But I think there’s a strong constituency for federalism, and it happens to be concentrated in the one place it can do the most good — in the 50 State Legislatures of this country. Once these people really “get” Article V, once they understand its potential, I think they’re going to run with it. And they won’t need any help from Donald Trump.