Testimony At The Select Committee On State Sovereignty - ConCon/Article V Convention - Action Required!
by Sonja Harris on March 8, 2011 at 3:19 PM
On Thursday March 3, I attended the Select Committee on State Sovereignty hearing to discuss the legislation that was being considered on an Article V convention. The bills being heard were HJR 34 by Richard Pena Raymond, HJR 100, HCR 18 and HCR 50 by Brandon Creighton. U.S. citizens are given an opportunity to testify For or Against in reference to a particular bill in public hearings. This is the second time that I have given testimony but the first time at our Texas capitol. The following are my impressions and results of the meeting as I saw them. I gave testimony Against HJR 100 and filled out a form stating For HCR 18 both by Brandon Creighton. The hearing can be seen online if you care to spend approximately 4 hours of your time. It was a long four hours to pass considering that we were all tired from the wait since 9:30am. It was a bit strange that the rules for the meeting were so fluid. The rules seemed to be made to fit particular people.
I arrived at the capitol at 9:30am with plenty of time to make the hearing scheduled at 10:30am. It was later that we were notified that because the Sonogram Bill being debated on the House floor that our meeting would be delayed until such time as the House would adjourn. The House adjourned approximately at 9:00pm! The Select Committee on State Sovereignty began sometime between 9:30pm – 10:00pm. The committee members had been on the House floor listening and voting for amendments that were meant to create a delay for the inevitable passing of the Sonogram Bill. So it was a long day for all concerned. Present from the committee were Chairman Brandon Creighton, Drew Darby, Senforina Thompson and Jim Pitts, Dan Branch was a late arrival. There were three invited guests who spoke first. Mario Loyola representing Texas Public Policy Foundation, Michael Quinn Sullivan who sent Andrew Kerr from Empower Texans and John Colyandro from Texas Conservative Coalition, all speaking For a Constitutional Convention.
Loyola, the director for the Center for the Tenth Amendment Studies, spoke first. State Representative Drew Darby asked him an important question. “How would we assure ourselves that by calling for this convention to consider this amendment that it would not expand beyond the scope for which we intended to have…a balanced budget?" The answer that followed was not as clear. Loyola in his drawn out explanation stated that if there were ‘extraneous matters’ a political situation would be impossible and the convention would not be valid. He also stated that Congress determines if the convention is valid and that Congress has the political ‘judgment’ to do so. Congress has two roles he said, one to initiate the convention and the other to transmit whatever the convention proposes to the states for ratification. Loyola also stated that the convention itself has its own rules which are inherent of the nature of a convention. My question, “What ‘inherent’ rules is he specifically referring to?” This leaves a wide gap for interpretation. Then we have to ask, whose interpretation?
John Colyandro from Texas Conservative Coalition mentioned that the budget the president submitted a couple of weeks ago is a stark realization of where we are today. Colyandro stated that, “The federal deficit for this year’s federal budget is as large as the entire federal budget that was put before Congress in 1998. In about 12 years we have effectively grown government four times in the twelve year period.” Not only do we need to have a Balanced Budget, but how we get there is equally important. Colyandro is of the opinion that in order not to risk the financial stability of the US all federal budgets should be balanced from today on and a long term pay down plan would be necessary as it will take years to bring down our deficit.
State Representative Richard Pena Raymond (D) presented his HJR 34 saying that he had waited long enough for his bill to be acknowledged. He proudly stated that there were only two years when we had a balanced Federal budget and that was during the Clinton Administration. Raymond chided those that believe that Obama is to blame for our economy by stating, that the budget had been out of control for a long time. He mentioned that Reagan, HW Bush and GW Bush, all Republican Administrations had failed to veto the budgets presented to them by Congress. He also commented on the enforcement of the Balanced Budget Amendment by saying US citizens would sue and the Supreme Court would then freeze federal assets. This was his opinion. Raymond refused to admit that while Republican Administrations have added to the problem it is not until now during the Obama Administration that the federal budget has become critical.
HJR100 is the bill that calls for a convention to propose an amendment to the US Constitution to require a balanced federal budget. Creighton, author of the bill, is not sure as he made changes to HJR 100 to ‘tighten’ the application so there would not be any problems to the balanced budget amendment and convention. These changes were to make sure that there would be safeguards in place. The changes to HJR100 are: Substitute - Adopt a balance budget with a spending limitation and Substitute - Taken from James Madison theories and writings this resolution in accordance with Article V is an application to congress for a convention solely to propose a specific amendment to the US Constitution to provide for a balanced budget amendment that contains a spending limitation.
Citizens were then asked to testify For or Against on the bills as listed above. Loyola who was an invited guest now testified For HJR 100 and against those opposing HJR100. I considered this as an affront to all grassroots conservatives. Loyola equated the grassroots conservatives as being radical and that the conservatives use scare tactics. He mentioned that in Montana the ‘fear of God’ was put into the legislators and a toothless resolution was passed. He hoped that the Texas legislature would not buckle under the pressure of the grassroots conservatives. This of course is not intimidation. Degrading the conservatives was his sole purpose for testifying. He was allowed to speak his very biased opinion.
My testimony given at about midnight was Against HJR 100 and I believe it is my right as a US citizen to give my opinion without interference from the committee as long as I follow protocol, which I did by signing the Affirmation Form. I followed citizens who referred to the present president and there was no objection. When I mentioned the name of Obama I was asked to keep my remarks on HJR100. This is rather difficult since he is the sitting president and we can attribute to him the out of control spending in Congress. After all we are discussing the Federal Budget. My arguments against HJR 100 are listed below in "Upholding America's Constitution - No Constitutional Convention." I have also enclosed Dr. Beverly Nuckols impressions of the hearing.
After attending and listening to the arguments For and Against, I am convinced that we should NOT have a Constitutional Convention or an Article V Convention, Balanced Budget Amendment convention or a CONCON. Changing the name of the convention does not hide the fact of all the possible consequences of a constitutional convention. The committee proceedings should give us a glimpse as to how the convention would be run. The bullies would run the convention and the ordinary citizen would be swept under. It is my opinion that State Representative Darby was out of line in asking me not to use Obama as an example. After all Obama is the current president and was used in previous testimonies and in the testimony following mine. Darby allowed others to speak out against Republican Presidents and allowed Loyola’s testimony solely to degrade and discredit grassroots conservative groups including the Texas Eagle Forum who testified Against HJR100. It was clear that the Committee was biased against those testifying Against HJR100. After hearing the invited guests address their side, I am of the opinion that it is still vague whether multiple subjects would be addressed at this convention. IF in fact the only purpose is to have a Balanced Budget, I believe as others do, that a straight amendment initiated by congress calling for a Balanced Budget would be more to the point. There is no proof that the balanced budget amendment or having a convention would miraculously solve our debt problem. It is frightening that there are men who are willing to risk our constitution for the sake of ‘shocking’ congress into having a balanced budget amendment. Using this committee hearing and its proceedings as an example, the biased testimony, the veering away from the topic, fluid rules, and interference with citizens testifying is a perfect reason why it is not a good idea to hold a constitutional convention. Is there any question that common sense will not prevail in a constitutional convention because of the diversity of mind sets? HJR100 is still in committee. Ask your State Representative to VOTE NO TO ANY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION!
DEFEAT HJR 100
Select Committee on State Sovereignty
Who Represents me?