The Wire

  • Three takeaways from Alabama’s Runoff Election

    Excerpt:

    With Alabama’s primary election runoffs now in the books, here are three takeaways from the results.

    North Alabama has spoken.
    When this election cycle began, it became evident that north Alabama saw a window of opportunity to increase its influence.  The results from the Republican primary runoff have shown the electorate in that area of the state was eager to flex its muscle.

    Will Ainsworth pulled out an impressive come-from-behind victory in the Lt. Governor’s race. Steve Marshall enjoyed a resounding win in his bid to retain the Attorney General’s office.

  • On Roby’s win: One false media narrative dies, a new one is born

    Excerpt:

    Like Lucy van Pelt of Peanuts comic strip fame repeatedly pulling the football away from Charlie Brown as he lines up to kick it, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) once again has shown you can’t beat her in a Republican primary.

    Similar to when she defeated “Gather Your Armies” Rick Barber in the 2010 GOP primary and “Born Free American Woman” Becky Gerritson in the 2016 GOP primary, Roby defeated former Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright for a second time on Tuesday night, this time by a whopping 36 points.

    Heading into yesterday, many national media reporters were sent into Alabama’s second congressional district looking at the possibility that Roby might have to answer to a revolt for not sticking with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on the infamous Billy Bush weekend during the 2016 presidential campaign.

  • Mo Brooks Wins FreedomWorks’ Prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award

    Excerpt from a Rep. Mo Brooks news release:

    Tuesday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) was one of only 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives awarded the prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award by FreedomWorks, a leading conservative organization with more than six million members nationwide. Only members of Congress who score better than 90% on the FreedomWorks scorecard receive the FreedomFighter Award. Congressman Brooks’ FreedomWorks score was in the top 4% of all Congressmen in 2017.

    Brooks said, “FreedomWorks is a leading organization in the conservative movement. I thank them for their work keeping members of Congress accountable and scoring key House floor votes which helps the American people better understand the impact of those votes. I was proud to receive the prestigious FreedomWorks 2017 FreedomFighter Award for my voting record in 2017. If America is to maintain its place as the greatest country in world history, more members of Congress must fight for the foundational principles that made America great. I’m fighting in Congress for those principles, and I’m glad to have a partner as effective as FreedomWorks in the fight.”

2 years ago

Three Alabama lawmakers to participate in simulated Convention of States

United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)
United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)
United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)

MONTGOMERY, Al. — Three Alabama state legislators will form the Yellowhammer State’s delegation to a simulated Convention of States designed to highlight needed amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

State Sens. Clay Scofield (R – Guntersville) and Greg Albritton (R – Bay Minette) and State Rep. Jack Williams (R-Vestavia) will join lawmakers from around the country in performing a test run of an actual Article V convention called to consider amendments to “impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and set term limits for its officials and for Members of Congress.”

Proposed constitutional amendments affecting issues like federal term limits, a balanced budget requirement, and limits on executive orders and rule making are among those that delegates will debate, discuss, and consider.

“The only way to rein in the ever-encroaching federal government is by adding constitutional amendments that limit its power and set strict boundary lines that officials cannot cross,” said Rep. Williams. “The most used and best known manner to amend the U.S. Constitution is for the Congress to initiate the process, but its members have proven unwilling or unable to take the necessary first steps.

“But Article V outlines that our Constitution may also be amended by having representatives from the individual states gather in convention and propose the needed changes. Our Alabama delegation will participate in a simulated convention designed to demonstrate exactly how that process would work.”

The event is being sponsored by Citizens for Self-Governance.

The idea of a Convention of States gained steam in 2013 after conservative talk show host Mark Levin advocated for a states-led convention in his book The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution says that a convention of the states can be convened if two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) approve an application for the convention to occur.

By design, that’s a high bar to clear. And the bar gets even higher when it comes to actually passing a constitutional amendment.

Each state would then choose delegates to represent them at the convention, but each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the constitution.

In short, the convention of the states is widely viewed as a last-ditch effort to push back against an overreaching federal government. 27 states have so far passed resolutions calling for a convention to pass a federal balanced budget amendment.

The Alabama Legislature passed a resolution in 2015 strictly limiting the purpose of a proposed convention to three areas:

1) Imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government through a balanced budget amendment;
2) limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government; and
3) implementing term limits on federal elected officials.

Members of the Alabama House and Senate who supported the effort say it was necessary because “the federal government has created a crushing national debt” and “invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative power of federal mandates.”

A resolution proposed by State Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) earlier this year was even more narrowly defined. It would limit the convention to only addressing the question of a balanced budget amendment.

“Even if we don’t get enough states behind it, we’ll send a clear message to Congress,” Allen told the Anniston Star. “Get your house in order.”

The possibility of a “runaway convention” is the most often cited concern with convening such a meeting of the states.

“In the course of our work advising state and federal lawmakers and conservative allies across the country, we have been giving this issue close attention and study,” said Dr. Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. “The lack of precedent, extensive unknowns, and considerable risks of an Article V amendments convention should bring sober pause to advocates of legitimate constitutional reform contemplating this avenue.”

But Rep. Ken Johnson (R-Moulton), who has sponsored a resolution calling for a Convention of States during the last couple of legislative sessions, said those concerns are overblown.

“Because we’ve never done it, the idea that there could be a ‘runaway convention’ is always brought up as a concern,” Johnson told Yellowhammer last year. “The convention would be limited to a small set of issues. But on top of that, the safeguard is that it only takes 13 states to kill any runaway convention. If there aren’t 13 conservatives states left, we’re in trouble, period. And Washington is a runaway train right now anyway. How much more damage could be done?”

Alabama’s two Senate Budget Chairmen have also been actively involved in the rule-making process for a possible convention. Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) and Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) traveled to Mt. Vernon, Virginia to discuss the ground rules of a potential convention.

“We discussed the reality that the biggest threat to America is an irresponsible Federal Government,” said Pittman. “Checks that need to be put on the Federal Government have not been accomplished and based on current activity appear not to be likely… 32 (states) participated in the Mount Vernon Assembly, to prepare rules and form committees within a strict framework… to discuss and build support for a possible amendment convention of the States.”

Sen. Allen’s latest bill called for a 24-hour, one-issue convention to convene in Dallas, Texas, the Wednesday after Congress receives the petition from the required number of states.

1
3 years ago

Alabama lawmaker pushes Convention of States to pass balanced budget amendment

United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)
United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)
United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)

A state senator is pushing to renew Alabama’s call for a Convention of States to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) has pre-filed a bill for the 2016 Legislative Session that would compel Alabama to join the “Compact for a Balanced Budget,” a group of states “uniting to fix the debt” through a federal Balanced Budget Amendment

The idea of a Convention of States gained steam in 2013 after conservative talk show host Mark Levin advocated for a states-led convention in his book The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution says that a convention of the states can be convened if two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) approve an application for the convention to occur.

By design, that’s a high bar to clear. And the bar gets even higher when it comes to actually passing a constitutional amendment.

Each state would then choose delegates to represent them at the convention, but each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the constitution.

In short, the convention of the states is widely viewed as a last-ditch effort to push back against an overreaching federal government. 27 states have so far passed resolutions calling for a convention to pass a federal balanced budget amendment.

The Alabama Legislature passed a resolution earlier this year strictly limiting the purpose of a proposed convention to three areas:

1) Imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government through a balanced budget amendment;
2) limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government; and
3) implementing term limits on federal elected officials.

Members of the Alabama House and Senate who supported the effort say it was necessary because “the federal government has created a crushing national debt” and “invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative power of federal mandates.”

The resolution Sen. Allen is now proposing is even more narrowly defined. It would limit the convention to only addressing the question of a balanced budget amendment.

“Even if we don’t get enough states behind it, we’ll send a clear message to Congress,” Allen told the Anniston Star. “Get your house in order.”

The possibility of a “runaway convention” is the most often cited concern with convening such a meeting of the states.

“In the course of our work advising state and federal lawmakers and conservative allies across the country, we have been giving this issue close attention and study,” said Dr. Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. “The lack of precedent, extensive unknowns, and considerable risks of an Article V amendments convention should bring sober pause to advocates of legitimate constitutional reform contemplating this avenue.”

But Rep. Ken Johnson (R-Moulton), who has sponsored a resolution calling for a Convention of States during the last couple of legislative sessions, said those concerns are overblown.

“Because we’ve never done it, the idea that there could be a ‘runaway convention’ is always brought up as a concern,” Johnson told Yellowhammer earlier this year. “The convention would be limited to a small set of issues. But on top of that, the safeguard is that it only takes 13 states to kill any runaway convention. If there aren’t 13 conservatives states left, we’re in trouble, period. And Washington is a runaway train right now anyway. How much more damage could be done?”

Alabama’s two Senate Budget Chairmen have also been actively involved in the rule-making process for a possible convention. Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) and Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) traveled to Mt. Vernon, Virginia to discuss the ground rules of a potential convention.

“We discussed the reality that the biggest threat to America is an irresponsible Federal Government,” said Pittman. “Checks that need to be put on the Federal Government have not been accomplished and based on current activity appear not to be likely… 32 (states) participated in the Mount Vernon Assembly, to prepare rules and form committees within a strict framework… to discuss and build support for a possible amendment convention of the States.”

Sen. Allen’s latest bill calls for a 24-hour, one-issue convention to convene in Dallas, Texas, the Wednesday after Congress receives the petition from the required number of states.


RELATED:
1. Two Alabama senators discuss potential constitutional convention at Mt. Vernon Assembly
2. Two top Ala. Senators propose bills laying out guidelines for Convention of States
3. Alabama officially applies to Congress for Convention of States


1
3 years ago

Alabama officially applies to Congress for Convention of States

United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)
United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)
United States Capitol (Photo: Eric B. Walker)

WASHINGTON — After a few years of gaining momentum, a movement to apply for a Convention of the States to amend the U.S. Constitution has officially been completed in the Yellowhammer State.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution says that a convention of the states can be convened if two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) approve an application for the convention to occur.

By design, that’s a high bar to clear. And the bar gets even higher when it comes to actually passing a constitutional amendment. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the constitution. Each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments.

The resolution passed by the Alabama Legislature strictly limits the purpose of the proposed convention to three areas:

1) Imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government through a balanced budget amendment;
2) limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government; and
3) implementing term limits on federal elected officials.

The fourth state in the Union to complete the application, Alabama’s resolution calls on a Convention of the Sates to “propose amendments that would 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.”

Members of the Alabama House and Senate who supported the effort say it was necessary because “the federal government has created a crushing national debt” and “invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative power of federal mandates.”

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill on Thursday officially sent the application to President Obama, the Secretary of the U.S. Senate, and to the Speaker and Secretary of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This is a chance for Alabama and potentially other states across the Union to exercise their rights as a state and to stand up for those rights,” Secretary Merrill said in a press release.

Alabama’s application for the convention will remain in place unless it is revoked by a subsequent legislature. Alaska, Florida, and Georgia have also submitted their applications, and several other states have begun the process as well.


1
3 years ago

Alabama should pass the Compact for a Balanced Budget to rein in National Debt (Opinion)

Debt Statue of Liberty
(Image above: A visual illustration of America’s debt piled up around the Statue of Liberty. The full visualization can be found here.)

There are few things as outrageous to Americans as taxation without representation; it started a war. But it is a fact that our children and grandchildren will be taxed for most of our current $18.5 trillion national debt. It is also a fact they had no representation when that obligation was imposed on them.

Our descendants should not be stuck with a bill for federal spending that mostly does not benefit them – but that is exactly what Washington is doing.

Soon Congress will be voting to lift the federal debt limit yet again—as it has done dozens of times in the past. The debt limit debate and temporary shutdowns in Washington have always been pure political theater. The overspending continues.

But why should we expect anything else?

Unlike Alabama, which is constitutionally required to balance its budget every year, the federal government can run deficits, print money, and borrow without limit. They promise ever-expanding programs of federal goodies, and borrow on the backs of our children to fund these leviathan programs that are strangling our economic freedom.

But the irresponsible spending cannot go on forever.

Today, our $18.5 trillion national debt exceeds the value of our annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which measures our nation’s annual economic output. The U.S. national debt comparatively is worse than that of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Spain and France. In fact, our debt to GDP ratio is as bad as Greece’s in 2007.

As Greece knows all too well, a nation built on excessive debit is living on borrowed time. At any point, our creditors (China, and the like) could come to their senses and cut us off. We are close to the point of soaring interest rates, massive spending cuts, or tax increases to fund bloated federal programs. It is a grave threat to our national security to put such destructive power in the hands of China, which is the largest foreign holder of our national debt.

That’s why the Alabama Senate just joined Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, and North Dakota in an effort to seize the wheel before Washington drives us over the cliff. On May 28, Republican state senators overwhelmingly passed the Compact for a Balanced Budget, which I sponsored.

The Compact is an agreement among the states to fix the national debt. It advances a powerful balanced budget amendment that would impose three critical reforms.

First, the amendment would limit Washington’s borrowing capacity to a specific amount and otherwise restrict spending to revenue at all times. By freezing the national debt, it would force Congress to live within its means.

Second, the amendment encourages spending reductions before tax increases to close deficits, while still keeping responsible revenue options on the table. It would do so by requiring super-majority approval for new or increased income or sales taxes, while retaining the current simple majority rule for revenue increases that are politically difficult and less harmful to our economy such as eliminating tax loopholes.

Third, the amendment would furnish three “release valves” that would allow emergency borrowing in times of war or national disaster. Congress could pay down the national debt and free up borrowing capacity under the debt limit, or the President could delay less urgent spending when a “red zone” of borrowing capacity is reached (subject to simple majority override by Congress to prevent abuse). If all else failed, Congress could ask a majority of state legislatures to approve an increase in its borrowing capacity. These three release valves would provide Washington with all the flexibility needed to deal with the uncertainties of the real world—but without the absurdity of giving a bankrupt debtor the power to borrow whatever it wishes.

These reforms would force the politicians in Washington to focus on the constitutional priorities of the federal government. Once spending reductions were exhausted, they would encourage long overdue pro-growth tax reforms to close deficits. At long last, the days of kicking the fiscal can to future generations would be over.

By passing the Compact for a Balanced Budget, our State Senate has proudly declared that Alabama will join with its sister states in furnishing the fiscal leadership that Washington lacks.

I urge the State House of Representatives to pass this important legislation and send it to the Governor for his signature.


Senator Gerald Allen represents Tuscaloosa, Pickens, and Lamar Counties in the Alabama State Senate. He is chairman of the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee.

1
3 years ago

Alabama House calls for Convention of States to rein in federal government

Alabama House of Representatives (Photo: Yellowhammer)

Alabama House of Representatives
Alabama House of Representatives

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — After several hours of debate Tuesday evening, the Alabama House of Representatives approved a resolution calling for a Convention of States to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution says that a convention of the states can be convened if two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) approve an application for the convention to occur.

By design, that’s a high bar to clear. And the bar gets even higher when it comes to actually passing a constitutional amendment. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the constitution. Each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments.

The resolution passed today by the Alabama House strictly limits the purpose of the proposed convention to three areas:

1) imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government through a balanced budget amendment;
2) limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government; and
3) implementing term limits on federal elected officials.

This is the second year HJR112, sponsored by Rep. Ken Johnson (R-Moulton) and cosponsored by 52 additional Republicans, has been approved by the House. Last year the resolution died in the Senate, but Rep. Johnson has high hopes that this year will be the year Alabama officially signs on to the idea of a Article V convention.

“We’re calling for restraints on the federal government,” Johnson told Yellowhammer when the resolution passed last year. “That means an amendment that forces them to balance the budget and stops these overreaching federal mandates. We’re also calling for term limits on federal elected offices.”

Johnson said the states are able to limit the scope of the convention ahead of time, to mitigate the risk of a “runaway convention.”

“Because we’ve never done it, the idea that there could be a ‘runaway convention’ is always brought up as a concern,” Johnson said. “The convention would be limited to a small set of issues. But on top of that, the safeguard is that it only takes 13 states to kill any runaway convention. If there aren’t 13 conservatives states left, we’re in trouble, period. And Washington is a runaway train right now anyway. How much more damage could be done?”

HJR112 would require the legislature to create the rules for determining the appointment and duties of delegates to the convention, as well as constitute a continuing application until at least two-thirds of all State Legislatures have made application for a convention to provide for these purposes, unless the resolution is rescinded by a succeeding legislature.


1
3 years ago

Shelby introduces Balanced Budget Amendment

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

WASHINGTON — Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) announced this week that he introduced S.J. Res. 9, a resolution to propose a constitutional amendment requiring Congress to have a balanced budget.

“I have long believed that one of the few shortfalls of our Constitution is the omission of a requirement for the federal government to do what hardworking Americans do every day – balance a budget,” said Sen. Shelby.

The senator’s proposed amendment would require the federal government’s expenditures to be less than or equal to federal receipts in any fiscal year, except in times of war. The total amount of money spent in a fiscal year could not exceed more than 20 percent of GDP for the previous year.

In addition to being passed by Congress, the amendment would need to be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

“Our national debt recently surpassed $18 trillion, serving as a harsh reminder of the burden that will be placed on future generations if the federal government continues to operate on its unsustainable spending trajectory,” Sen. Shelby said. “Requiring Washington to balance its budget is a common sense policy that would reduce wasteful spending, restore confidence in our economy, and foster job growth.”

A balanced budget amendment is one of the objectives of the many conservatives who have advocated for a convention of the states, an idea that gained steam in the conservative grassroots community after talk show host Mark Levin advocated for a states-led convention in his book The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic.

This isn’t the first time Sen. Shelby has introduced legislation to balance the federal budget. In fact, Shelby has introduced a similar resolution in every Congress since being elected in 1987. While such an amendment has had slim chances in the past, Sen. Shelby’s position as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee could give the resolution’s chances a boost.


1
4 years ago

Ala. senators continue push for Constitutional Convention to rein in Federal government

State Sens. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, and Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, at the Mount Vernon Assembly in Dec. 2013.
State Sens. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, and Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, at the Mount Vernon Assembly in Dec. 2013.

Alabama Senators Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) have for the past several months been engaged in a coordinated process with legislators from around the U.S. to move the country toward at state-led Constitutional Convention for the first time in history.

In short, a convention of the states is widely viewed as a last-ditch effort to push back against an overreaching federal government. Potential amendments being kicked around include term limits on federal lawmakers and caps on taxation and spending.

Roughly 100 state legislators from 32 states assembled at Mt. Vernon, Virginia last December to begin laying out ground rules that would be followed should such a convention ever be convened.

That process continued late last week when the Assembly of State Legislatures met again at the Indiana State Capitol in Indianapolis.

The Assembly divided themselves into three committees: Judicial, Rules and Procedures, and Communications and Planning.

Sen. Orr was selected to serve on the Judicial Committee, which discussed how many states are currently calling for a convention, what type of notification is required for a call to be received by Congress, and other matters relating to the legal process of calling for a convention.

Sen. Pittman was selected to the Committee on Rules and Procedures. Among other things, Pittman’s committee affirmed the Assembly’s commitment to one state, one vote, meaning voting at any potential future conventions would not be based on each state’s population. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the Constitution.

No issues were formally discussed during the meeting. The group worked instead on the process, procedures and planning.

The Assembly’s focus on a “strict framework” stems from the fact that Article V of the U.S. Constitution leaves some ambiguity in the process of calling for a convention of the states. That has led to some concerns that a convention would be an unruly affair.

Sen. Pittman sought to ease those concerns after last December’s meeting, noting that several checks were being put in place to make a “runaway” convention impossible.

“We’re just meeting to put some rules and procedures in place, but this would be very structured,” he said. “The only way I’d support it is if it was a specific issue convention.”

Pittman reaffirmed his commitment to that process after last week’s meeting.

“Limiting the Federal Government is not going to happen inside the political culture and process of Washington, D.C.,” he told Yellowhammer. “It will require the States utilizing the Article V amendment process to reign in the excesses of the Federal authority. The first step is to draft and approve rules under which an Amendment Convention could safely take place. During this past week’s meeting in Indianapolis, I served on the Rules and Procedures Committee. We adopted the historical and fundamental rule of each state delegation having one vote. Now we can move forward with the additional rules and procedures necessary for a limited Article V Amendment Convention.”

Sen. Orr said he believes it is a positive step that legislators from all over the country have come together to start discussing an Article V convention.

“The meeting was but one more small step in what will be a very, very long process,” he said. “But one of the reasons, I believe, states have never come close to an Article V convening is that the state legislators from among the states rarely talk to one another and never have the ability to establish relationships of mutual trust. This process is changing the status quo.”

What do you think about the the potential for a Convention of the States? Do you think it’s a good idea? Let us know in the comment section below, or by tweeting @YHPolitics.


Check out more of Yellowhammer coverage of the Assembly of State Legislatures:
1. Alabama senators discuss potential constitutional convention at Mt. Vernon Assembly
2. Ala. Senators propose bills laying out guidelines for Convention of States
3. Alabama House passes resolution calling for Convention of the States


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
4 years ago

Lawsuit seeks to overturn parts of Alabama’s ban on gay marriage

Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.
Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.

The Southern Poverty Law Center on Thursday filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to overturn Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.

In 1998, Alabama passed the Marriage Protection Act, followed by the 2005 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment to the Alabama State Constitution. The SPLC’s suit contends that those laws violate the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

“Alabama has created two classes of marriages within its borders and deemed one of those classes — marriages between people of the same sex — to be inferior to the other,” David C. Dinielli, SPLC deputy legal director, said in a statement. “This is unconstitutional.”

The SPLC filed the suit on behalf of Alabama resident Paul Hard, who wants to be able to receive the potential proceeds from a pending wrongful death suit related to his partner’s passing. Their union originally took place in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal, but they lived in Montgomery.

“The only purpose of refusing Paul the right to share in the proceeds from the wrongful death lawsuit is to punish him for having married a man, and to express moral disapproval of this choice,” Dinielli said. “These purposes are improper and unconstitutional. Alabama must treat its LGBT citizens with equal dignity and respect under the law.”

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard responded swiftly today to the SPLC’s announcement.

“This lawsuit is part of a coordinated liberal agenda that is designed to erode the conservative Alabama values that the citizens of our state hold close to their hearts,” said Hubbard. “By an overwhelming vote in favor of the Sanctity of Marriage constitutional amendment, Alabamians strongly signaled their belief that marriage in our state exists only between a man and a woman. This Republican Legislature will continue fighting against the left-wing policies that Barack Obama and his liberal allies like the SPLC attempt to force upon Alabamians in spite of their deeply-rooted conservative beliefs. As I have noted before, the SPLC is nothing more than the ACLU with a southern accent.”

The gay marriage movement has rarely ever won at the ballot box, but they have had a lot of success finding judges sympathetic to their position. A George W. Bush-appointed federal judge earlier this week struck down part of Kentucky’s ban or recognizing same-sex marriages because he said the state treated “gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them.”

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore just last week wrote a letter to the governors of all 50 states urging them to get their state legislatures to call for a Convention of the States to amend the U.S. Constitution to say that the only union recognized by the government is one between one man and one woman.

Three Alabama state senators sponsored a resolution calling for a Convention in response to Moore’s letter.

“The moral foundation of our country is under attack,” Moore said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Government has become oppressive, and judges are warping the law.”


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
4 years ago

Alabama House passes resolution calling for Convention of the States

Alabama House of Representatives
Alabama House of Representatives

The Alabama House of Representatives today passed House Joint Resolution 49, an application to Congress calling for a Constitutional Convention under Article V of the United States Constitution.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution says that a convention of the states can be convened if two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) approve an application for the convention to occur.

By design, that’s a high bar to clear. And the bar gets even higher when it comes to actually passing a constitutional amendment. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the constitution. Each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments.

The resolution passed today by the Alabama House strictly limits the purpose of the proposed convention to three areas:

1) imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government through a balanced budget amendment; 2) limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government; and 3) implementing term limits on federal elected officials.

Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton, told Yellowhammer that he introduced the resolution because he believes a convention is the last available option to force the federal government to live within its means.

“We’re calling for restraints on the federal government,” Johnson said. “That means an amendment that forces them to balance the budget and stops these overreaching federal mandates. We’re also calling for term limits on federal elected offices.”

Johnson said it is important that the states are able to limit the scope of the convention ahead of time, which his resolution does, to mitigate the risk of a “runaway convention.”

“Because we’ve never done it, the idea that there could be a ‘runaway convention’ is always brought up as a concern,” Johnson said. “The convention would be limited to a small set of issues. But on top of that, the safeguard is that it only takes 13 states to kill any runaway convention. If there aren’t 13 conservatives states left, we’re in trouble, period. And Washington is a runaway train right now anyway. How much more damage could be done?”

This resolution, unless rescinded by a succeeding Legislature, constitutes a continuing application until at least two-thirds of all State Legislatures have made application for a convention to provide for these purposes.

It now goes up to the Senate, where several legislators have already been actively involved in the process leading up to a potential Constitutional Convention.

In December of last year, Alabama state senators Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, joined roughly 100 state legislators from 32 states at Mt. Vernon, Virginia to discuss the ground rules of a potential Convention of the States.

State Sens. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, and Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, at the Mount Vernon Assembly
State Sens. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, and Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, at the Mount Vernon Assembly

The full resolution passed by the Alabama House today can be read below.

WHEREAS, the Founders of our Constitution empowered state legislators to be guardians of liberty against future abuses of power by the federal government; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has created a crushing national debt through improper and imprudent
spending; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative process of federal mandates, most of which are unfunded to a great extent; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has ceased to live under a proper interpretation of the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, it is the solemn duty of the states to protect the liberty of our people, particularly for the generations to come, to propose amendments to the Constitution of the United States through a Convention of the States under Article V to place clear restraints on these and related abuses of power; now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOSUES THEREOF CONCURRING, That the Legislature of the States of Alabama hereby applies 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 that impose fiscal restrains on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State is hereby directed to transmit copies of this application to the President and Secretary of the United States Senate and to the Speaker and Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, and to the members of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States Congress from this state; and to also transmit copies hereof to the presiding officers of each of the legislative houses in the several states, requesting their cooperation.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That 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.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
4 years ago

Two top Ala. Senators propose bills laying out guidelines for Convention of States

From Left: Sen. Trip Pittman, Sen. Arthur Orr, Rep. Ken Johnson, Rep. Barry Moore
From Left: Sen. Trip Pittman, Sen. Arthur Orr, Rep. Ken Johnson, Rep. Barry Moore

Two top-ranking Alabama State Senators today held a press conference to stress the importance of establishing guidelines for amending the U.S. Constitution through a Convention of the States, as outlined in Article V of the Constitution.

Working with lawmakers from 31 other states through the Mt. Vernon Assembly, Senators Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, are sponsoring two bills that would set parameters on delegates to an amendment convention in the event one is called to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Under Article V of the nation’s governing document, an amendment convention can be convened if two-thirds of state legislatures, or 34 states, approve an application for the convention to occur. Proposed amendments would then have to be ratified by three-fourths, or 38 states.

The proposed bills in the Alabama legislature designate a process by which delegates are selected to represent Alabama at the convention and establish guidelines for delegates to follow.

Senate Bill 199, sponsored by Pittman, is designed to hold potential delegates accountable by requiring the Legislature to adopt instructions for delegates, in addition to providing that a vote by a delegate outside the scope of the Legislature’s instructions is void.

“From out-of-control spending to seemingly endless gridlock, it’s easy to see why so many Americans think Washington is broken,” Pittman said. “Fortunately our nation’s Founding Fathers had the foresight to provide states with a mechanism to hold the federal government accountable. Article V of the U.S. Constitution is an important protection tool for states to use against a runaway federal government. It’s equally important, however, that the states have checks in place to ensure delegates honestly represent the views and beliefs of Alabamians, not special interests. These two bills will ensure that Alabama’s delegates are accountable to the people if and when a convention of states is convened.”

[RELATED: Alabama legislator introduces resolution calling for Convention of the States]

Senate Bill 200, sponsored by Orr, establishes qualifications for delegates and gives the Legislature the authority to appoint and recall delegates.

“Nearly three out of four Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction,” Orr explained. “The national debt is skyrocketing, only to be compounded by trillions of dollars in unfunded entitlement programs. By many accounts, the federal government has far overstepped its bounds with unprecedented regulations into numerous areas of our economy and everyday lives. Given the dire outlook, many are realizing that a state-led amendment convention is our best hope for a positive change of direction. If nothing else, this movement of states is a sharp reminder to Congress that we mean business.”

Orr and Pittman also pointed out that while all amendments to the U.S. Constitution to date have been proposed by Congress, 20 states, including Alabama, have petitioned Congress to call a state-led convention on a balanced budget amendment to control unchecked federal spending. This coalition, they said, shows a positive trend of states that are ready and willing to take on a crucial problem Congress has long ignored.

In 2011, the Alabama House and Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 100, sponsored by Orr, formally petitioning Congress to call a convention under Article V for the specific purpose of passing a federal balanced budget amendment, requiring that, in the absence of a national emergency, federal spending for any fiscal year not exceed total federal revenue.

Both SB199 and SB200 have received their first reading and are pending action by the Senate Committee on Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1
5 years ago

Alabama legislator introduces resolution calling for Convention of the States

Alabama House of Representatives
Alabama House of Representatives

Ken Johnson, R-Moulton, this week introduced a resolution in the Alabama House of Representatives calling for a Convention of the States in an effort to check federal government spending and mandates and calling for term limits on certain federal elected officials.

In December of last year, Alabama state senators Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, joined roughly 100 state legislators from 32 states at Mt. Vernon, Virginia to discuss the ground rules of a potential Convention of the States.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution says that a convention of the states can be convened if two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) approve an application for the convention to occur.

By design, that’s a high bar to clear. And the bar gets even higher when it comes to actually passing a constitutional amendment.

Rep. Ken Johnson (Left) with Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (Right)
Rep. Ken Johnson (Left) with Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (Right)

Each state would then choose delegates to represent them at the convention, but each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the constitution.

The idea of a Constitutional Convention gained steam in the conservative grassroots community after talk show host Mark Levin advocated for a states-led convention in his book The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic.

Rep. Johnson told Yellowhammer this morning that he introduced the resolution because he believes a convention is the last available option to force the federal government to live within its means.

“We’re calling for restraints on the federal government,” Johnson said. “That means an amendment that forces them to balance the budget and stops these overreaching federal mandates. We’re also calling for term limits on federal elected offices.”

Johnson said the states are able to limit the scope of the convention ahead of time, to mitigate the risk of a “runaway convention.”

“Because we’ve never done it, the idea that there could be a ‘runaway convention’ is always brought up as a concern,” Johnson said. “The convention would be limited to a small set of issues. But on top of that, the safeguard is that it only takes 13 states to kill any runaway convention. If there aren’t 13 conservatives states left, we’re in trouble, period. And Washington is a runaway train right now anyway. How much more damage could be done?”

Johnson’s full resolution can be read below. 37 members of the Alabama House signed on as co-sponsors.

WHEREAS, the Founders of our Constitution empowered state legislators to be guardians of liberty against future abuses of power by the federal government; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has created a crushing national debt through improper and imprudent
spending; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative process of federal mandates, most of which are unfunded to a great extent; and

WHEREAS, the federal government has ceased to live under a proper interpretation of the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, it is the solemn duty of the states to protect the liberty of our people, particularly for the generations to come, to propose amendments to the Constitution of the United States through a Convention of the States under Article V to place clear restraints on these and related abuses of power; now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOSUES THEREOF CONCURRING, That the Legislature of the States of Alabama hereby applies 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 that impose fiscal restrains on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State is hereby directed to transmit copies of this application to the President and Secretary of the United States Senate and to the Speaker and Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, and to the members of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States Congress from this state; and to also transmit copies hereof to the presiding officers of each of the legislative houses in the several states, requesting their cooperation.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That 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.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

1