Me and Mike Miller

Maryland Senate President Mike Miller and I have one thing in common.  We’re on the same list  —  State Legislators who have voted for an Article V Convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.  He was a 34 year old freshman Maryland State Senator.  I was a 37 year old freshman Alaska State Senator.  No one’s done a count, but i’d guess that there are around 4,000 other Legislators on the same list, from the 28 States which have passed BBA Resolutions.  By the time we get to 34, there will probably be 5,000 people on the list.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the most significant things I did in my legislative career.  Mike Miller had a different career than I did, and I don’t know how he feels about that vote.  I do know that Senate President Jim Clark carried the bill, and, from the looks of it, Miller is a protege of Sen. Clark.  Mike has been President of the Senate for 30 years, but before him it was Jim Clark for eight years.  I doubt that Miller could have been elected Senate President without Clark’s support.  I’m sure he remembers that.

Senator Jim Clark, along with Representative David Halbrook of Mississippi, started the Article V BBA movement in 1975 by introducing and eventually passing Resolutions in their respective legislatures.*  Quickly joined by Lew Uhler, by 1979 the movement, begun by Clark and Halbrook, had won 30 Resolutions, only four shy of the goal.

39 years later we’re at 28.  We were down to 17 at one point, and we’ve been clawing back.  One big problem we’ve got is that there aren’t that many Democrats like Jim Clark any more  — fiscal hawks.  There are a few, but they’re far between.  Maybe Mike Miller is one of them.

30 years ago, when she was a Delegate, Maryland State Treasurer Nancy Kopp led a rescission effort, passing her Resolution in the House of Delegates.  Mike Miller had just been elected to succeed Clark as Senate President, and Kopp’s bill never made it to the Senate floor.

Kopp is back at it.  She’s been the Maryland State Treasurer for fifteen years, and she’s the driving force by the rescission effort in Maryland.  She hasn’t quit.  We’ll see if Mike Miller has.

To say that Mike Miller’s career differed from mine is an understatement.  But then, Mike is a natural born Irish pol, a Tip O’Neill type, with five kids and fourteen grandchildren.  Maybe he thinks about the debt he’s passing on to those kids.

He started practicing law when he was 23, and was elected to the House of Delegates when he was 29.  Four years later he was in the Senate, where he’s been ever since, the last 30 as President.

I was a State Senator for two years, then the Governor gerrymandered me out of my seat.  That was the high point of my political career.  I should have walked away from politics, but I wanted revenge, so I ran for the State House and spent two years trying to destroy Gov. Bill Sheffield, politically.  By the time we were done with him his own party wouldn’t nominate him, so I had that.  Then I decided that if I became Speaker of the House I could run against Ted Stevens, so I wasted four years chasing that rabbit.

So, Mike Miller and I don’t have that much in common.  But we’re both on the list, along with Jim Clark.  It would be a shame to see that name taken down.




*Setting Limits by Lew Uhler, p. 186

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