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As we finish up the month of January in the Iowa Legislature, the committee system is in full motion.  Bills are being considered at the subcommittee level and successful bills are moved up to full committee.  The largest issues of the session, tax cuts and workforce development are still being developed and will be filed soon.  I’ll cover those two issues in future reports.

One of the issues about which I receive the most emails is generally known as the Convention of the States movement.  The Constitution of the United States allows for two ways to amend the Constitution.  One process is for Congress to consider an amendment, which then requires three-fourths of the states (38) to ratify the change to make it official.  The second way is for two-thirds of the states (34) to agree by identical resolution to trigger Congress to call a Convention of the States in order to consider the subjects of proposed amendments listed in the States’ resolutions.  The Convention cannot by itself pass any amendment, only offer them.  It has no legal power to ratify.  If proposed amendments are offered out of the Convention it would then take three-fourths (38) state legislatures to ratify these amendments without the approval or input of Congress.

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The resolution being considered nationwide has been passed in 16 states as I write this with Wisconsin passing the resolution this week.  I am told Nebraska is likely to adopt the resolution this session.  A few years ago, Iowa’s House of Representatives passed the resolution, but the Senate majority didn’t have the votes to follow suit.

The resolution being considered would authorize the states to consider three topics: Term limits for federal officials, to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and spending restraints on the federal government.  The delegates of the attending states would consider ideas for amendments.  It is possible that no amendment proposals would come out of the Convention, or that only one or two of the subjects would have a finished amendment idea to offer to all fifty states to consider.

The worst part of this issue is that it has caused what I call a family fight among conservatives.  Many relationships have been damaged as this issue is debated across the state.  For the last few years I have stepped back to watch the discussion and see how the case for and against developed.  Opponents of the Article V effort maintain first that there is nothing wrong with our Constitution and that we just need to elect officials who respect and abide by the Constitution.  Secondly, that the event could become a runaway Convention and rewrite the whole Constitution to erase our fundamental rights.

I have considered these points very seriously, and have concluded that doing nothing is more dangerous to the republic than signing on to the list of states calling for a convention.  Electing the right people didn’t work when we have had Republican control of Congress and the White House as recently as President Trump’s first two years.  We also found that the power and reach of the federal government grew as mandates and shutdowns were ordered by Washington in a questionable response to the Chinese Covid Crisis.  I am also satisfied that the Convention cannot ratify, only propose, amendments.  It would take only thirteen state legislatures to stop any amendment’s adoption if it fell outside the subject of the resolution.

The issue seems simpler for those on the political left for this issue.  They are solidly against it.  In fact, a coalition of over 200 liberal organizations have banded together to fight the Article V effort.  A powerful and growing federal government helps them achieve their goals.  This alone should indicate the value of a convention discussion.

I’ve made no secret of my belief that the federal level of government is a lost cause regardless of who’s in control.  This is why I am so dedicated to strengthening Iowa and ensuring our rights are protected.  Congress cannot rein in its own lust for power, the well-funded interests have more influence over decisions than voters, and huge departments write overreaching rules that somehow have the power to control and punish far beyond the law they are to administer.  This can’t be fixed from Washington, D.C.  I am convinced Article V was given to us by our Founding Fathers for a time such as this.

Author: Jason Schultz

State Sen. Jason Schultz served three terms in the House prior to being elected to the Iowa Senate. Schultz served seven years in the National Guard and served as volunteer fire fighter for the Schleswig Volunteer FD for 13 years, two years as the department's chief.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I’m fine with having a convention of states to discuss amendments to the Constitution. The biggest question I have concerning term limits is this? Why?

    Why are we discussing an amendment to “fix” the 17th, when it was the 17th that severed the direct relationship between the senate and their respective State governments?

    Our founding fathers formed two houses of Congress; the Senate to represent the interests of the several states and to be answerable to the state legislature that selected the senator. The House to represent We the People and to be answerable to the voters that sent them. Wanting more power, Congress conspired to remove the Senate from the control of the States and euphemistically “give” it to We the People by getting us to ratify the 17th.

    How about we repeal the 17th and see how that goes for a few cycles before we consider term-limiting the State’s rights to send whom they wish to DC?

    As for the House, the Constitution is clear and specific; 1 representative per 30,000. I don’t see any Amendment that limits the house to an arbitrary 435. Ergo the Apportionment Act of 1929 is unconstitutional and a direct cause of the issues we have in getting the representatives to remember whom they really serve. Given our current population, we’re talking about 7,000 to 11,000 representatives, depending on the criteria used to apportion the representation.

    That said, I’m all for term limits for federal bureaucrats and SES. 10 years of service and out. Let them go back to the private sector.

    Most of the real problems of big government are the entrenched bureaucrats who watch the balance of power shift every election cycle with feigned interest while carrying on their self-determined mission.

    Food for thought.

  2. AJ Foster, well said sir. If I constituents were as informed as you, all would be well. We have had the ruby slippers on all the time. Notification and impeachment when properly applied would not have allowed these problems to exist in the first place. Many historical and salient points to be made about this issue.

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