Local man attends Article V Convention of States meeting

Mar 15 2017
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Proponents of the Article V Convention of States project met in Lincoln March 7 to discuss the status of a Legislative resolution to limit the federal government’s fiscal responsibilities, limit the scope of its power and impose term limits.

According to the local Article V Convention of States coordinator, Steve Riese, many Americans believe the federal government is operating outside the powers it is given through the U.S. Constitution.

“Administration of both parties has burdened us with extensive and invasive regulations that affect every aspect of our lives. Federal judges, including the Supreme Court, create law instead of merely interpreting law. Simply trying to ‘elect better people’ does not work because the corruption in Washington, D.C., is too deep and the damage is too extensive,” Riese explained.

Article V of the Constitution, however, provides a solution, “that matches the size of the problem,” he said.

“Article V of the Constitution describes the process to amend the Constitution. Amendments that demand fiscal accountability, restore federalism or limit time spent in office would go a long way to providing lasting positive change,” Riese said.

Article V outlines two proposal methods for such amendments – through Congress and through the states. “And because Congress is a big part of the problem, they are not likely to propose amendments such as fiscal responsibility or term limits that correct their behavior or limit their power. Therefore, it is up to the states to take action,” Riese said.

Local proponents of Article V Convention of States focused on LR6, which the Nebraska Legislature would need to adopt to move forward with this solution. “Every meeting is to provide information to the senators about the Convention of States,” Riese said. “In Nebraska, our resolution was put forward as LR6 and a vote is expected by mid-April.”

Riese said several senators attended the March 7 meeting. “It’s a nationwide effort to get a convention to propose Constitutional Amendments. We need 34 states to pass LR6 with the same wording. Eight have passed it so far, but some states don’t meet every year. Nebraska is now in a race with Texas to be the ninth state to pass it. Iowa and South Dakota are close to passing it,” Riese said.

LR6 was introduced by 12 state senators during the First Session of the 105th Legislature. Senators introducing the bill are Laura Ebke, Bruce Bostelman, Tom Brewer, Steve Erdman, Curt Friesen, Mike Groene, Steve Halloran, Mark Kolterman, Tyson Larson, Brett Lindstrom, Dan Watermeier and Matt Williams. It was approved 6 (for)-1 (against)-1 (abstain) by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs committee Feb. 23. The vote count was (yes) Brewer, Tom Briese, Joni Craighead, Mike Hilgers, John Lowe and John Murante; (no) Justin Wayne; and (present) Carol Blood. It is now in the General File. Sen. Halloran recently made LR6 his priority bill.

The resolution reads as follows:

1. The Legislature of the State of Nebraska hereby appliances to Congress under the provisions of Article V of the Constitution of the United States, for the calling of a convention of the states limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that 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.

2. The Clerk of the Legislature shall transmit copies of this application to the President and Secretary of the United States Senate, to the Speaker and Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, to the members of the Senate and House of Representatives from this state, and to the presiding officers of each of the legislative houses in the several states, requesting their cooperation.

3. This application constitutes a continuing application in accordance with Article V of the Constitution of the United States until the legislatures of at least two-thirds of the several states have made applications on the same subject.

Several local lobbyists also spoke against the Convention during the March 7 meeting. “There will be a strong and well-funded resistance,” Riese said.

Establishing the Convention will not be an overnight task. “It’s going to take a long time, maybe five to six years before we see a committee on it,” he said. “Once 34 states are on board, all 50 states send delegates to the convention where they will craft and propose amendments that fit within the three stated goals: impose fiscal restraints, limit federal power and impose term limits.”

Proposed amendments must then be ratified by 38 states to become part of the Constitution. “That is a very tall hurdle, but amending the Constitution should only be done with the greatest care and deliberation,” Riese said.

People have asked Riese if the Convention is still needed now that Donald Trump is president. “It’s not a Republican or Democrat issue. The problem it addresses has been building over the years. People who are against it are those in favor of big government in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “The spirit of the movement is there. While there is a great deal of information available, much of the public is just beginning to understand how the Convention of States works and why it is such a powerful tool. We held one information session in Plattsmouth and plan to hold more in the near future.”

Riese said future meetings will be announced in The Journal and other media sources in the area.

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