Legislative Update, January 30, 2016

Tennessee General Assembly information, click HERE. For information on State Senators, including phone numbers and email addresses, click HERE; for House members, click HERE. For information on legislation, click HERE.
Don't forget that you can now watch the Senate committee meetings and floor sessions online by going HERE; House committee meetings and floor sessions online HERE.
Phone calls can go to the legislative Switchboard at 615-741-3011 or to the Toll Free number 1-800-449-8366+1 last four digits of office phone number (available online).

A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.  John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 17, 1775

Rep. Bob Ramsey is still away for the Capitol and we certainly should pray for his recovery. Rep. Curry Todd had some surgery last week and needs our prayers. Also, please just pray for the lawmakers and their staffs on a regular basis. They need that wisdom, direction and intervention. Their work is difficult and many times they are faced with making very difficult decisions where the 'right choice' is not always apparent.  All but the legislators in middle Tennessee are away from their families and work most of the week for several months at the time. "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people”for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior¦ -1 Timothy 2:1-3

The Legislative Plaza was full of energy this week, with a large amount of focus being on a resolution that would call for a convention of the states. Eagle Forum is opposed to such a convention so it was very interesting to see people we are normally aligned with on the opposite side of the issue. The dynamics at play were very interesting to watch and be apart of, business is picking up this session and it will be very exciting to see how it progresses. I'm looking forward to watching it happen.

Every day at the capital is full of running around from office to office. You go up and down the elevators and hallways running into familiar faces and have brief discussions right where you stand because there is just no time. Amid all the hustle and bustle, you also have to make it to committee rooms, which is somewhat of a pause in your day. However, this is where you get to watch your legislators at work presenting and discussing the impact of each bill. I had the pleasure of watching some high school students present bill ideas to our representatives about their concerns on over testing. It was great to see the concern these students had for their education and how the legislators listened with great intent. I am looking forward to see how our state will help these students and the education system as a whole.

SJR 0067 by *Bell
Constitutional Amendments - As introduced, makes application for the calling of an Article V convention under the United States Constitution to consider amendments to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.

The Constitutional Convention issue  has been around for more than forty years, in fact the last thing I did before leaving Lexington, KY, in 1986, was to help defeat a call for such a convention. This newest push generally started with Mark Levin's book, 
The Liberty Amendments
, which he constantly focused on and promoted in his national radio program. As time went on various nationally known names joined the course of voices calling for a convention of the states (COS). And that made it's way to Tennessee a couple of years ago.

Tuesday was a very interesting in that Noah and I spent all morning trying seeing legislators to express our concerns about SJR67. We saw those members of the State Government Committee who were available before the committee met at high noon. We did learn that at least some of the lawmakers had received emails and phone calls from 'both sides' of the issue. At the appointed hour, the hearing room was packed with folks wearing their 'support COS' buttons!  I will give them credit for getting their folks there! Of course having local popular radio personalities pushing the issue appearing at Townhall meetings that were also broadcast to radio listeners certainly helped.

House Sponsor Shelia Butt presented the bill and two other men testified, one of whom was Mark Mechler,
who is president fo the Citizens for Self Government and co-founder of Convention of the States Project.  A lively debate took place which you can watch here.

The out of town supporters of COS have done an excellent job of making their case and making it seem as if a Convention of the States if the last great hope for this nation. That being said, I still have never received an appropriate answer to very my first question: If congress isn't following the Constitution now, what makes us think they WILL follow it when it is amended??  Nor my second question about actually balancing the budget: Recognizing that TN receives approximately 40% of its budget from the federal government, which of these federal programs would TN be willing to decline to help balance the budget??  Crickets!!

How effective the out-of-town COS supporters have been becomes clear when I am speaking with our legislators.  They will inevitably ask is: "Just exactly what are you AFRAID of?"  COS opponents are successfully being painted as fearmongers.  We are not and I always explain that I just have some concerns that I don't believe have been adequately answered, nor do I believe that they can be since we have never done this before. I know that the COS supporters believe that this entire process can be tightly controlled
, but if it is, it will the first large, nation wide activity that has ever been pulled off as planned.

ARTICLE V: "The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention..........."  It seems to me that the language is pretty clear here and I don't know how ANY state law can change this stated sequence.  "The Congress..shall call".  Think on that a  minute.

We also know as a fact that there are many liberal organizations that are also working in support of such a convention. During the debate in committee at least one of the Democrats mentioned that he would like to see the Constitution amended to overturn the Supreme Court Citizens United decision.

Now when the discussion gets to the bottom line their 'safe harbor' is always that we can't have a 'run away' convention because whatever the convention passes must come back to the state legislators for ratification.  Not so fast.  Article V continues: " when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress;"

So let me understand what the US Constitution states:  CONGRESS gets to decide the method  of ratification, but even that presupposes that Convention does not CHANGE the method or requirements for ratification as did the very first Convention when the Constitution was written.

Even if that didn't happen, the requisite number of states did ratify the 16th amendment ( allows the Congress to levy an income tax) and  17th amendment (establishing the popular election of United States Senators by the people of the states).  Many folks don't think either of these were good ideas.

I want to close by saying that I GET IT -- I UNDERSTAND that we are living in perilous times and some kind of device or process that would offer the hope of reigning in an out of control congress is very attractive and looks like that last great hope.  But I think that concerns are legitimate especially when this is a plan that is untried and untested and unproven. Even when I list all these concerns I know that supporters will respond that they have all be successfully addressed.

Organizations OPPOSING an Article V Convention

NOTE:  Posted HERE are some new analysis of the Convention of the States written by Citizens Against an Article V Convention.  You might find these helpful

STATUS:  SJR 67 was voted out of the State Government Committee 5-4
and will be in Calendar and Rules committee on Tuesday morning at 8:30am.
ACTION:  I encourage you to contact the members of that committee to express your concerns about this proposal.

SB 2186 by *Bell, (HB 1905) by *Hill M
Education - As introduced, requires each local school board to adopt a policy on the use of religion in curriculum and instructional materials; requires each LEA to create a syllabus to be made public for grades six through 12 on social studies, science, math, and English language arts courses.
STATUS:  HB1905 is
scheduled in Education and Instruction on Wednesday at noon.
ACTION:  Please let the members of this committee that you support this legislation!

This is abbreviated Update as I am in St. Louis attending the Education Policy Conference, Securing a Strong America, with our Teen Eagle Leader, Frances Arthur. This is an incredibly informative conference.I have been able to attend all of them except on!!