You go back, Jack, do it again

The first Convention of States of the modern era, held in Phoenix last week, was a resounding success, with one caveat.  Only 19 states sent delegations, seven short of a quorum of 26.  The second Convention, (to be held at a State Capitol yet to be determined) will be in November or December of 2018, and there should be 30 or more states present.

Once again, the delegates will unite behind the principles of One State, One Vote, One Amendment.   Once again, the assembled delegates will demonstrate the order and decorum appropriate to the occasion.  Once again, the myth of the runaway convention will be discredited.

These Conventions of States should meet annually until that fantasy is exposed as a hoax.  And once that task is accomplished, the annual Conventions of States should continue.  Future Conventions can address such questions as:  1) How will the states monitor and enforce compliance with the Balanced Budget Amendment?  2)  Is there a consensus for an additional Article V Amendment?  3)  Various issues of federal vs. state jurisdiction, such as the status of public lands in the west.

All 71 of the delegates to Phoenix are ambassadors for Article V in their state legislatures.  There should be twice that many delegates to the second Convention, and all of them will likewise be the strongest and most informed advocates of Article V in their states.  Conventions of States, along with the Phoenix Correspondence Commission, are the means by which states can act in unison, in a duly authorized and official manner.  They are the revival of an ancient and honorable American tradition.  The impact they might have on American politics and government is revolutionary.

I heard a delegate in Phoenix say that this is the fourth leg of the stool of federalism, the other three being the President, the Congress, and the Supreme Court.  But that’s not really true.  The states, acting together, are sovereign, and superior to any and all branches of the national government.  The entire federal government exists at the sufferance of the states.  They made it, and they can change it.

That scares some people, but they weren’t at Phoenix.  They didn’t see the delegates to the Convention.  They don’t appreciate the seriousness and caution shown by every one of them.  State legislators are not some rabble.  They are, by and large, honorable public servants, and patriots.  The men and women I’ve met in the last four years are exactly the kind of people who can be safely entrusted with this power.  The conduct of the Phoenix Convention of States is the proof.

One record set in Phoenix may never be duplicated.  Convention President Kelly Townsend advises that the total expenditure by the State of Arizona for the Convention was $7,000.  Congratulations to the penny pinching Speaker of the Arizona House, J. D. Mesnard.

Many lessons were learned in Phoenix, and the next Convention of States will have the benefit of experience.  It’s something to look forward to.




I’m for Article V, and I want your vote

“Why am I running for the state legislature?  Because the greatest threat to our liberty, and our country, is the Congress of the United States.  Year after year, under Republicans or Democrats, it spends a trillion dollars it doesn’t have.  If it isn’t forced to mend its ways we’ll be bankrupt.

Under the Constitution, there is only one control on Congress, and that is the state legislatures.  Under Article V, if they act together, they can force it to balance the budget.

So that’s why I’m running for the state legislature.  I want the states to intervene, as they have the right to do, and get the federal government under control.

If you want something done about Congress, vote for me.”

Somewhere in Montana there’s someone who may want to try that line out.  The filing deadline is March 12th.  Then the search begins.

Strike Force Phoenix

At the Phoenix Convention of States, Arizona State Representative Anthony Kern chaired the subcommittee which dealt with, among other things, a proposal for the establishment of a “committee of correspondence”.   The result of the subcommittee’s deliberations, approved unanimously by the Convention, is the Phoenix Correspondence Commission (PCC).  It will consist, initially, of a member from each of the 19 state delegations present in Phoenix.  The four states which had observers may also be able to participate.   Every state will be asked to appoint a member of the PCC.

If this Commission is as well organized and conscientious as the Convention which established it, it has enormous potential.  Representative Kern stepped up to lead the subcommittee which created this Commission, and he will hopefully continue to show leadership as the interim Chair.

Among its functions, the PCC is charged with tracking applications, or Resolutions, submitted by the states calling for a BBA Article V Convention.  In order to effectively track, it must be aware, and involved, in the efforts to pass the seven needed Resolutions.  The extent to which this occurs is up to the Commissioners.  And that remains to be seen.

In an ideal world, state legislators serving as Commissioners would constitute a “Phoenix Strike Force”, ready to communicate to legislators in the seven target states that the runaway convention argument is a hoax.  Commissioners from 26 states could assure their fellow legislators that there are, in fact, 26 and more states who will absolutely refuse to participate in any Convention that does not abide by the principles of One State, One Vote, One Amendment.  If they are believed, how is a runaway possible?

The only way to continue to believe in a runaway would be to call these people liars.

Report from Phoenix

Since Democratic Speaker Bryce Edgmon was uninterested in the Phoenix Convention of States, Alaska had no delegates in attendance.  Only delegates who were appointed by both the Senate President and House Speaker were recognized by the Credentials Committee.  However Senate President Pete Kelly was kind enough to appoint me to represent the Alaska Senate, so I was given a badge and observer status.  As a freshman Senator in 1983 I voted for the Balanced Budget Amendment Resolution  — the subject matter of the Phoenix Convention  —  so it made a certain amount of sense.  In due time I will submit a formal report to the Senator Kelly, which I hope will be incorporated into the official Journal of the Senate.

Bill Fruth of the BBA Task Force is responsible for the fact that this Convention took place at all, and he had hoped to be a delegate from his native Florida.  But Hurricane Irma made a hash of all that, and so, like me,  he was not given the privilege of the floor.  We watched the proceedings from the gallery of the Arizona House chambers.

Since almost all of the delegates were state legislators, and since the Convention took place in a legislative chamber, the delegates were in their element, like fish in water, and the Convention functioned just as any of the 99 state legislative chambers operate every year.  It’s a bit tedious, to tell you the truth, but it’s what these people are used to, and they feel comfortable doing it.  It used to drive me crazy when I was in the Alaska legislature, but I was never cut out to be a legislator.

Bill Fruth has never served in a legislature.  He was mayor of a small town in Ohio.  I left Alaska sixteen years ago, and have been out of the legislature for 26 years.  So while we were perfectly qualified to be delegates, we would have been different.  Bill and I are associated with the BBA Task Force, a non profit lobbying group promoting the BBA.  If he and I were on the floor, we would naturally have been in the middle of things.  But we weren’t, and thank God for that.

Two innovations emerged from Phoenix.  First, the idea of regular, annual Conventions of States, to be rotated among the State Capitols.  Second, the Phoenix Committee of Correspondence was created, to facilitate communication between the states, the Congress, and the public.  These potentially revolutionary developments are the work product of the delegates to the Phoenix Convention.  These ideas belong to them.  I hope they take a proprietary interest in both of them, and make them a reality.

Bill thinks the entire Convention may have cost the Arizona Legislature about $10,000.  Speaker J. D. Mesnard turned out to be a skinflint, and I’m glad of it.  This was no convocation of fat cats.  These were, for the most part, citizen-legislators, many of whom came on their own dime.  This is as legitimate as grass roots get.

Representative Kelly Townsend, the tireless Chair of the Arizona Planning Committee, was elected, and served, as President of the Convention.  It’s a distinction she earned.  It’s an honor that she can be proud of for the rest of her life.




A New Bloom of Freedom

Something, maybe something big, just started in Phoenix.  74 delegates from 19 states attended the first national Convention of States since the Civil War.  They met to talk about Article V, and the Balanced Budget Amendment, and how to get seven more state Resolutions, and how an actual Article V Amendment Convention would function.

In this process, something came into being.  The 74 delegates who met and came to know one another are now members of a cadre, a core group, who have the shared experience of an historic occasion.  And this group will continue in existence beyond Phoenix.  These people are now the leaders of the Article V movement.  They welcome the responsibility.  It is rightly theirs.

They decided to meet again, in 2018, some time after the November election.  Some eastern state, such as Tennessee, will call for another Convention of States, and attendance at this one should be north of 30 states.  I suspect almost all of the Phoenix veterans will be there.  We probably won’t have 34 Resolutions by then, but we’ll have more than we do now.  The newcomers who attend the 2018 Convention will be recruited to the job of completing the mission, and getting that 34th state.  I think there will be hundreds of them.

Equal in importance to the 2018 Convention, a Phoenix Committee of Correspondence (PCC) was established.  It will have, initially, 23 states represented on it.  (The 19 states which sent delegates, along with the four states that had observers.)  All states are invited to join, and this membership will grow, and quickly.  It will be responsible for maintaining communication among the states with respect to Article V and the BBA, and for establishing communication with the Judiciary Committees of the House and Senate.  The date and location of the 2018 Convention will be decided by the PCC.

The PCC is a creation of the state legislatures, and, ultimately, a means of communication for and between all of them.  This is new.  This is an official vehicle for any one of the 7,383 state legislators to communicate with their colleagues in the other 49 states.

If the PCC continues in existence, and the states begin to meet, in Convention, on an annual basis, the Phoenix Convention could be the beginning of a revival of federalism in this country.  And that would be a new thing in American history.

It would be like a phoenix.