Progress of Applications for an Article V Convention –
By Stuart MacPhail April 2020
There have been no new Article V applications for a convention of states – on any subject – since March 2019.
The Convention of States Project (CoSP) continues to be active with its triple-subject proposal in about a dozen state legislatures. The application proposals have seen little or no progress in the last month, with these exceptions:
Hawaii – On March 6 the CoSP proposal was introduced as HR112 with 12 sponsors.
Oklahoma – SJR41, with 2 sponsors, appears to be an update of SJR4 adopted in 2016. Both applications are unique in that they simultaneously apply for a CoSP convention AND a BBA convention. SJR41 was approved in the Senate on March 4 by a vote of 36 to 11. It has been referred to the House Rules Committee. The 2016 application sunsets in 2023. SJR41 would remove the sunset provision and rename the bill in honor of former Oklahoma US Senator Tom Coburn. The COVID-19-caused legislative temporary shutdown may prevent SJR41 from being acted on this year.
NOTE: Senator Coburn, known for his work to ban funding for legislative “earmarks” and his work with the Convention of States Project, passed away on March 27 (after fighting prostate cancer for years) at age 72. Read an editorial about Coburn in the March 28 edition of the Tulsa World… HERE.
South Carolina – HJR3125 was passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on March 11 on a vote of 14 to 9. The resolution next heads to the House floor where it has 48 sponsors.
Activities of the single-subject Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force (BBA) effort were not listed in last month’s newsletter. While this group’s activities have been severely scaled back the last couple years, there continues to be some progress.
In Mississippi, HCR14, a BBA proposal, was introduced on January 30 with 1 sponsor. It is currently in the Rules Committee. In 1979 the Mississippi legislature adopted HCR51, a resolution calling for an Article V convention of states to propose a BBA. Unfortunately that bill included language that some constitutional scholars believe precludes it from aggregating with other similar applications. Totally separate from HCR14, efforts are underway to get the Mississippi legislature to adopt a bill to modify the 1979 application.
In South Carolina, HCR52, a BBA proposal, was introduced on February 19 with 7 sponsors. It is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.
In South Dakota, SJR503 sought to rescind that state’s 2015 BBA-focused Article V application. The bill failed to pass in the Senate on a February 25 vote.
The US Term Limits (USTL) effort to impose term limits on Congress has had two developments since last month’s report in this newsletter:
Arizona – HCR2016 was approved by 2 different House committees in February. On March 4 by voice vote the House Committee of the Whole voted to “Retain on the Calendar”. No action since.
Wisconsin – SJR 106, with 5 sponsors, was introduced on February 28. It is pending in a Senate committee.
The various “Get Money out of Politics” efforts continue to be active. On March 6 Maryland Matters carried a story under the heading Activists, Lawmakers Want Big Money Out of Politics — But Divide on How. Most of these efforts are aimed at overturning or circumventing the 2010 “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision.
The article noted, “For the seventh consecutive year, lawmakers and grass-roots organizations are trying to pass a resolution [SJR2] that would enable Maryland to call on Congress to hold a convention to address the scourge of money in politics. And for the seventh consecutive year, the resolution met opposition from groups that also oppose big money in politics — but are scared of a convention going too far.” Read that article HERE.
Meanwhile Business for American Promise, under the leadership of Elizabeth Doty,
seeks “to empower, inspire and organize Americans to win the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.” That amendment is said to “re-balance our politics and government by putting the rights of individual citizens before the privileges of concentrated money, corporations, unions, political parties, and superPACs.”
Although American Promise supports efforts to get an Article V convention to propose its amendment, it is currently relying on Congress to formally propose the measure (HJRes 2 – which has over 200 sponsors).