As most know, I am one of two Directors for Citizen Initiatives (CI), the other Director is Wayne Ozosky from Eagle River. Both Wayne and I are one the same page and working hard to get CI’s amendment through the State Legislature. That said, because he is now working nights, we don’t get a lot of time to collaborate prior to my articles and or activities. Safe to say that we have the same goal and that is not changing.
On 9 Jan, Representative Wes Keller, presented to the Valley Republican Womens Club on Article V and the Mt Vernon meeting of 7 December 2013. Wes is leaning toward the methodology of Convention of States (CoS) and in e-mails he pointed me toward the legislative director Don Brand. Don and I had a good, productive conversation on CoS and CI, the direction we were going, why and how that in so many ways, we want the same thing, liberty, freedom and to stop Congress and the President from taking away that liberty and freedom. It is important to understand that both CoS and CI are in full agreement that we have a Congress, President and Judaical that are run-away which is a fact vs the “fear” of a run-away convention. The coordinator for the Matsu Valley is Kelly Caraway and she called me after hearing from Don to invite me to Conservative Patriots Group (CPG) to meet and further discuss and present to CPG our two organizations.
At the headquarters level of CoS, Mike Ferris has a fundamental difference with CI’s Director Charles Kacprowicz on the binding of delegates to the Legislatures. From what Kelly said and passed out in a flier, that isn’t the case, at least at the State level, I noticed the same with Alabama CoS. However the major difference is the call and the format of the call for a convention of the States for the purpose of proposing amendments (from Article V). CoS is pushing a resolution to call for subjects, such as ” limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government”, “limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress”, and ” Impose Fiscal Restraints”. According to Kelly these are “general issues” that upon the convention the delegates can then develop an amendment for each subject. Will expound on that aspect later. CI is pushing a resolution to call for amendments such as ” Sovereignty and States Rights Amendment”, “Term Limits Amendment” and “Balanced Federal Budget Amendment”. CI contends that these are specific and start the making of the amendment as to specific subject matter. The process upon sending the call for the specific amendments then results in the State Legislature writing the specific amendment that goes with the delegate to the convention.
First of I will discuss the CoS version. My major resource document is http://www.scribd.com/doc/126641416/Article-V-Handbook Proposing Constitutional Amendments By a Convention of the States A Handbook for State Lawmakers by Robert G. Natelson. As I said above, the delegates go to the convention with or without a written resolution that binds the delegates to the legislature, then they work on developing an amendment for ratification. According to Mr Natelson, “Like other diplomatic personnel, convention commissioner are subject to instruction from home” Throughout this handbook, there is no discussion of States writing a proposed amendment with the instructions to the delegates to follow those instructions. In point of fact, the “subject” is only talked about. Don Brand, legislative liaison to CoS for Alaska contends that the States could send a written amendment for the subject or the delegates have the freedom to develop an amendment on their own (if the delegates are bond to the legislature, that may be hard to do unless agreed upon in advance as to the level and scope). Here is the problem with this route as I and CI see it. The number of delegates at the convention is unknown. Many advocate the same number as in the Electoral College which would be over 500, others advocate much smaller, in line with the Senate, two per state. The assumption is that there will be in the neighborhood of 500 plus delegates from all States. To write proposed amendments will involve many people with diverging agenda’s and thoughts. We know already the partisan bickering that happens now in State Legislatures and the Federal Congress, the potential for the same is there with this methodology. So first the delegates would have to come up with an amendment, then when all State delegates have written their amendment, then those would have to be reviewed and compared to the other proposed amendments. Then the parts of the whole which are agreeable to all the delegates would have to be used in the amendment and those areas of disagreement debated, rejected or included to get to a final product. After that the delegates would have to vote, one State, one vote to approve the amendment. Once that is done the amendment is then sent to the 50 States for review. This could result then in the individual States sending back for re-writes or accepting the product. If re-writes then the delegates would have to make the needed changes after debate. Once that is completed, then by a majority vote the amendment is passed and sent to the States for ratification, in this case 38 States agreeing to the amendment. If 38 State agree and ratify, then it becomes part of the US Constitution with the full force of the law of the land. Last concern about this approach is that subjects like ” limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government” and ” Impose Fiscal Restraints” are broad in scope and in fact several amendments could come from such “subjects”. As important because of the broad aspects, Congress may not recognize the “subject” because of it being so broad and potential for multiple amendments not specified.
Next I’ll discuss CI’s version. Once the call is made for the specific name of the amendment, the State Legislature draft the amendment. This would involve appointing legislators to write the draft, then go to committee’s, most likely Judiciary, State Affairs and probably Finance. Once this is done in the House and Senate committee’s the House would vote on their version coming from committee’s as well as the Senate. Most likely then if any disparities, a joint committee would go over the differences, resolve them and return for a vote of both chambers. Once a majority vote is cast in both chambers, the amendment is complete. Then the House and Senate would develop a Delegates Resolution which will bind the delegates to the will of the Legislature. Rules, what the delegates can and cannot do, would be developed and go through normal committee process’ votes on the floor and final passage. Then once 34 States have made the call, a convention is decided on, then the legislature would appoint the delegates. Going on the assumption that at least 26 States, greater than 50% did the above, then the delegates would review all the State Legislative approved amendments. The parts of all amendments that are alike would be combined and the parts that are different reviewed, debated and either dropped or adopted. Then the final amendment sent back to the States, again as in CoS breakdown, States would approve or send back with changes, the amendment finalized and then voted on, one State, one vote for the final version. Then the final product to the State Legislatures for ratification vote and if 38 pass, the amendment becomes part of the US Constitution. Our proposed amendment is specific which when 34 States make the same call, Congress should not have any problem with the specific aspects and a single amendment coming from it.
So, what are some to the pro’s and con’s to each?
1. The CoS version, once the convention was called would take a longer time than the CI version, mainly because of the development of the amendment at the convention vs the amendment already developed while awaiting for the 34 State to make their calls.
2. If the majority of the delegates are not bound by a Delegate Resolution, the partisanship and free agent actions could create a lot of friction and slow down or stall the process if delegates are not bond ahead of time.
3. Having pre-written amendments would be easier to review, debate, research and come to conclusions. The delegates would have a clearer intent of the State Legislator’s prior to leaving and would have a clear understanding of what was expected of them vs some other form of direction by the State Legislature to the general subject process.
Either way the process may come up with the same result, an agreed to amendment that may or may not pass ratification. Time in this case though is not our friend, for the longer the delegates are in this kind of setting and if this is based on a general subject vs specific amendment the greater the chance for partisan bickering and not getting the job completed.
The bottom line is that all organizations who want to have a Convention of States for the purpose of proposing an Amendment(s) to the Constitution must come together. We must speak with a clear voice that gives our State Legislatures clear marching orders which will result in a convention that is smooth running, with a singular purpose and that will propose, adopt and finally the States ratify an amendment or amendments, which will stop the run-away Federal Government and strengthen the sovereignty of all individuals and States over that of the Federal Government. To continue to argue and fight only gives those like President Obama the time he needs to become the first dictator of the United States of America. The outcome of that and the resulting actions of the people, I do not want to contemplate. So, like the banner of old, do we come together as one or, like the dead snake chopped up in individual pieces loose or freedoms?
My next piece is in finalization and will be from an article by Mr Farris, Director of Convention of States: Why the States Need To Use Their Constitutional Power to Rein in Abuses of Power by Washington DC With that will be comments from Charles Kacprowicz, Director of Citizen Initiatives. I hope to have that by the end of today to be a companion piece to this article. The bottom line is for all Alaskans that are following this to contact your State Legislator’s and tell them what you want them to do. Better yet, to testify to the committee’s who will be reviewing the resolutions (CoS and CI). The goal is clear, keep our freedoms and liberties, reign in a runaway Federal Government and fully regain our individual and States Rights and respect for our Sovereignty!