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Happenings on the Article V Front

By Stuart MacPhail – May 2021

On March 30 Newsweek carried an interview-based article on Mark Meckler, co-founder of Convention of States Action (CoS).

When asked about the goals of CoS, the article reports Meckler’s response as: “Meckler isn’t pushing for any specific amendment, but he has a prediction on what might be popular should his group succeed.  At the top of the list is term limits, which he says is supported by about 80 percent of the population.  Also, an amendment abolishing the Department of Education could pass, as could one that mandates single-subject bills because ‘Americans are frustrated with 5,000-word bills that nobody understands’.”  Read the Newsweek article HERE.

  • According to NetNebraska (Nebraska’s PBS and NPR stations) and Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska’s unicameral legislature fell two votes short of adopting the Convention of States Project’s (CoSP) application for an Article V convention.

State Senator Steve Halloran, with the help of State Senators Tom Briese, Tom Brewer and Steve Erdman, sought to get the legislature as a whole to pull the bill out of a so-called “kill committee” and onto the legislative floor for debate.  Twenty-five votes were needed to succeed.  They got 23 votes.

Senator Briese was quoted as saying “Adoption of this (legislative resolution) sends a message that we’re serious about these issues,” and added that he believes the federal debt poses one of the biggest threats to democracy.

Also during April the Colorado legislature reportedly approved HJR1006 which rescinded all Article V applications previously adopted by that state.

  • In South Carolina, Senators Shane Massey and Rex Rice are aggressively pushing for adoption of SCR141, a resolution applying for a BBA-focused Article V convention.  The bill was reportedly approved by a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on April 16.

A number of Article V scholars believe that should this resolution pass, it would be the 34th application for an Article V convention, thus requiring Congress to call such a convention (setting the location and date to convene).  The current version of SCR141 can be found HERE.  Rep. Rice hopes to amend the resolution before adoption by adding wording that lists the other 33 states with which the SC application is intended to aggregate with and which would stipulate a 60-day window for Congress to take action on calling the convention.

The Convention of States Project (CoSP) resolution also appears to be gaining favorable support in both houses of the South Carolina legislature.

  • During late March Associated Press outlets carried stories about Alabama’s US Senator Richard Shelby’s 18th filing of a bill seeking a balanced budget amendment to the US constitution.

As a federal office-holder (terms in the House and Senate) since 1987, the 87-year-old Shelby announced this will be his last term.  Meanwhile California US House member Jay Obernolte introduced his version of a BBA as HJR32.  Such congressional bills are considered eye-wash with leadership exhibiting no interest in moving them forward.

  • Last month US Term Limits (USTL) saw West Virginia adopt its application for an Article V convention… the fourth for this movement (to term limit members of Congress), and the first new Article V application this legislative year.

Meanwhile USTL continues to be especially active in North Carolina and Tennessee.  On April 6 Knox News (Knoxville, TN) published a guest editorial by Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs that says, “Term limits would remind members of Congress that they work for the people, not the other way around.”

Mayor Jacobs says, [I]t is time to adopt congressional term limits.  The idea is woven into the American experiment; Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams all supported it.  Today, it is the most popular and bipartisan issue in our country, with 82% support from the public.  That includes support from 89% of Republicans, 76% of Democrats and 83% of independent voters.

He went on to say, “I am under no illusions that Congress will propose term limits on itself.  That would be like children agreeing to set their own bedtime.  It’ll never happen.  But thankfully, the framers of our great Constitution gave us another path forward.”   Read that editorial HERE.

Two days later Tennessee’s Congressman Tim Burchett penned another guest editorial for Knox News in which he said, “If my brief time in the US House of Representatives has taught me anything, it’s that Congress will never be fixed without term limits. That’s why I’m hoping the Tennessee General Assembly will support a term-limits convention and pass House Joint Resolution 8 (HJR 8).”  Read that piece HERE.  On April 8 the Tennessee House approved HJR8 by a vote of 53 to 34 before sending it to their Senate.

In North Carolina the USTL resolution was approved by the House on March 17 on a vote of 61 to 52.  As the bill was passed to the Senate, NC House Speaker Tim Moore suggested that the effort represents the nation’s only chance to impose term limits on members of Congress.  He stressed, “Congress will not do it itself.”

The Beaufort County (NC) Commissioners on April 5 voted 5-2 in favor of a resolution to “raise the collective voice” of the Board in support of HJR172.

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