Newsletter - Edition 123 - April 2023
Providing Article V / Federalism News and Scholarly Resources Since 2013
Dispensing with the "Runaway Convention" Myth Once and For All
by Vickie Deppe
In New Hampshire, HB 392, a delegate selection and oversight (DSO) statute, has passed in the House and awaits a hearing in the Senate Election Law and Municipal Affairs Committee. The bill describes procedures for the popular election of delegates to propose amendments to the New Hampshire and United States Constitutions, as well as pledged delegates to any ratifying convention called under Article V. The legislation also establishes a bipartisan oversight committee and procedures for handling delegates who do not comply with their instructions. Model convention rules proposals have included the designation of a Sergeant-at-Arms whose responsibilities include monitoring delegates for compliance with the instructions issued to them by their respective state legislatures.
The primary sponsor of the New Hampshire DSO is Rep. Jodi Newell, a former Wolf-PAC board member. Though there have been dozens of occurrences of orderly interstate conventions throughout our nation’s history, and ratification requires the highest threshold of any political action in the United States—3/4 of the states—before any proposed amendment may become part of our Constitution, Newell argues that having DSO statutes in place can help provide additional confidence in the process. Rep. Newell and cosponsor Rep. Ellen Read encourage their counterparts in other states to adopt this strategy in a discussion with Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks.
Article V News
Congressman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) has filed HCR 24 for Congress to call for an Article V Convention based on applications to propose a balanced budget amendment, which reached or exceeded 34 from 1979 through 2001 and again from 2015 through 2021. The resolution further stipulates ratification by pledged delegates at state conventions. Additional coverage is available at MSN.
The Texas House has introduced a resolution to ratify James Madison’s Congressional Apportionment proposal. Passed in Congress in 1789, the proposed amendment laid out a formula for adding and apportioning seats in the United States House of Representatives as the nation grew. Based on notes from the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers, and congressional records, the intent was to allow the number of seats in the House to grow indefinitely in order to facilitate legislative districts of no more than 50,000 residents; however, it appears that the final proposal contains a scrivener’s error that would have had the effect of throttling the growth of the House once the number of seats reached 200. Had the original formula been adopted, the House of Representatives would now comprise more than 6,000 seats. Eleven states have ratified the Congressional Apportionment Amendment.
An application for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment failed in the Montana House owing to bipartisan opposition. In Kansas, an application to propose a fiscal controls amendment failed to secure the required 2/3 supermajority to pass.
The Convention of States Project (CoSP) application has been filed in the Hawaii House, the Hawaii Senate, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Two sponsors were added in Minnesota. In Iowa, SJR 7 passed in the Senate State Government Committee. The Kansas Senate Committee of the Whole has voted for the adoption of SCR 1607. SJM 004 failed in committee in Colorado. After passing in the Senate, SJ 11 failed on the House floor in Wyoming.
Applications to impose term limits have been filed in Hawaii, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. In North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, term limits applications have passed in the House and are on their way to the Senate. The Arizona House Committee of the Whole passed HCR 2016 with a voice vote. In Kansas, HCR 5005 failed to secure the 2/3 supermajority required to pass, but SCR 1609 remains active. In Montana, HJ 5 failed on a floor vote. In New Hampshire, HCR 4 was deemed inexpedient to legislate (i.e., killed) with a voice vote. In Utah, HJR 9 calling for a convention to propose a term limits amendment failed without receiving a hearing prior to adjournment.
Delegate selection and oversight bills are moving in Iowa, the Missouri House and Senate, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and the Texas House and Senate. The Missouri, Montana, and New Hampshire (see feature) renditions join Arizona and Nebraska in requiring bipartisan participation. The Oklahoma rendition also provides for participation in convention planning activities, and the Texas rendition makes unauthorized votes a felony, which would render the perpetrator ineligible to hold office in Texas.
In Texas, a measure to extend the sunset clause on its Article V applications from 8 to 16 years passed in the Senate.
The next meetings of the Phoenix Correspondence Commission are scheduled for June 9 and September 8. The PCC is an official channel for the states to communicate with each other and with Congress regarding Article V matters. If you would like to represent your state at the PCC, please contact Bruce Lee.
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You don’t need a formal conspiracy when interests converge.