He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man. We must not conclude merely upon a man’s haranguing upon liberty, and using the charming sound, that he is fit to be trusted with the liberties of his country. — Samuel Adams

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Article V Constitutional Convention Bills Killed in SD Legislature

February 12, 2014   ·   By   ·   1 Comments

SD_House_emblemThree bills dealing with an Article V Constitutional Convention that were making their way through the South Dakota legislature were killed on Monday and Tuesday this week.

On Monday Feb. 10, HJR 1005 “to apply for a Convention of the States under Article V of the Constitution of the United States” was killed in the South Dakota House State Affairs committee on a 12-0 vote. Testimony had been accepted in committee on this bill on Feb. 9, and no additional testimony, other than a proponent statement by the bill’s prime sponsor Rep. Isaac Latterell,  was offered on Feb. 10. During the same Feb. 9 meeting in which HB 1136 to ““limit the authority of delegates to a limited Article V convention to vote for unauthorized amendments contrary to legislative instructions and to provide a civil fine for the violation thereof” was passed 12-0. During that same meeting, HJR 1004 “making formal application to Congress to call an Article V convention of the states for the sole purpose of proposing a federal balanced budget amendment” was also passed 7-4.

Latterell stated there were more than one group seeking a balanced budget amendment, and that HJR 1004 was seeking another avenue than his bill. Latterell said it was impossible to tell which one might gain support of enough states first, so he urged the committee to pass both bills.

Rep. Mike Verchio moved to kill the bill and stated he believed it was overly broad. After very brief discussion, it was killed on a 12-0 vote.

On Feb. 11, the full House considered HB 1136. Prime Sponsor Rep. Manny Steele and Rep. Don Haggar spoke in favor of the bill. Rep Anne Hajek said states do not have the authority to limit what a constitutional convention would do, and urged a “no” vote. The bill was killed in a 37-33 “no” vote. Steele gave notice of intent to reconsider the vote at a later time.

Yeas: Anderson; Bolin; Craig; Cronin; Ecklund; Erickson; Gibson; Haggar (Don); Haggar (Jenna); Heinemann (Leslie); Hickey; Hunhoff (Bernie); Killer; Langer; Latterell; Lust; Magstadt; Mickelson; Novstrup (David); Otten (Herman); Parsley; Qualm; Schoenfish; Sly; Stalzer; Steele; Stevens; Verchio; Werner; Westra; Wick; Wink; Speaker Gosch

Nays: Bartling; Cammack; Campbell; Carson; Conzet; Dryden; Duvall; Feickert; Feinstein; Greenfield; Hajek; Hawks; Hawley; Heinert; Hoffman; Johns; Kaiser; Kirschman; Kopp; May; Munsterman; Nelson; Olson (Betty); Peterson; Rasmussen; Ring; Romkema; Rounds; Rozum; Russell; Schaefer; Schrempp; Soli; Solum; Tulson; Tyler; Wismer

Immediately following the vote on HB 1136, HJR 1004 was heard. Prime sponsor Rep. Hal Wick spoke for his bill, as did Steele. Steele said both parties have been in power and have contributed to the spending problem.

Rep. Jim Stalzer said language was specifically added to Article V in the 1787 constitutional convention to give the states power to amend the constitution and restrain the federal government. Stalzer said the federal government will not restrain spending unless the states force it to. Rep Jim Bolin also spoke in favor of the bill.

Rep. Dan Kaiser spoke against the bill, stating he did not want to see the U.S. Constitution changed, but rather he wanted to see us start following it. Kaiser said the problem with spending and debt isn’t just the federal government’s fault, because the states have been willing to take massive amounts of federal spending within their own borders.

Latterell spoke in favor of the bill, stating that while many fear what could happen with a constitutional convention, “Pandora’s Box is already open,” referencing the power of congress under Article V to propose amendments.

“How can we trust them [congress] with the power they have today,” asked Latterell, “but we don’t even trust the people that we would send there to propose amendments?”

Rep. Charlie Hoffman also spoke in opposition due to the size and scope of the proposed change to our constitution.

Rep. Stace Nelson said this measure would inadvertently give congress more authority to raise taxes under the auspices of balancing the budget. Nelson said South Dakota has a balanced budget requirement, but our state didn’t follow its own constitution because in 2011 the legislature had to cut $127 million from the budget to deal with a structural deficit.

“There is no magic in getting congress to obey the constitution,” said Nelson.

Nelson said South Dakota requires that bills contain only one subject and that subject be clearly identified in the title, yet legislation last year such as SB 70 had multiple subjects. Nelson mentioned SB 235 and said new spending is required to come in its own bill and must receive a two-thirds vote.

Nelson questioned the wisdom of trying to get congress to obey a new constitutional amendment when congress isn’t obeying the original constitution.

Rep. Troy Heinert said the simpler solution to this issue was to stop supporting the candidates we are sending to Washington now.

Rep. Don Kopp asked why Leftists like George Soros are pouring money into efforts to have a constitutional convention, and agreed with Heinert that the “fix” for our nation’s spending problem is at the voting booth.

Rep. Susan Wismer said the answer is in getting “big corporate money” out of the political process.

HJR 1004  was defeated in the full House by a 42-28 “no” vote:

Yeas: Anderson; Bolin; Conzet; Cronin; Ecklund; Erickson; Gibson; Haggar (Don); Haggar (Jenna); Heinemann (Leslie); Hickey; Hunhoff (Bernie); Killer; Langer; Latterell; Lust; Mickelson; Otten (Herman); Parsley; Qualm; Sly; Stalzer; Steele; Stevens; Werner; Westra; Wick; Speaker Gosch

Nays: Bartling; Cammack; Campbell; Carson; Craig; Dryden; Duvall; Feickert; Feinstein; Greenfield; Hajek; Hawks; Hawley; Heinert; Hoffman; Johns; Kaiser; Kirschman; Kopp; Magstadt; May; Munsterman; Nelson; Novstrup (David); Olson (Betty); Peterson; Rasmussen; Ring; Romkema; Rounds; Rozum; Russell; Schaefer; Schoenfish; Schrempp; Soli; Solum; Tulson; Tyler; Verchio; Wink; Wismer

All bills submitted in the 2014 legislature dealing with an Article V Constitutional Convention are now dead, with the possible exception of an intent to reconsider for HB 1136.


This article is printed with the permission of the author(s). Opinions expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the article’s author(s), or of the person(s) or organization(s) quoted therein, and do not necessarily represent those of American Clarion or Dakota Voice LLC.

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Bob Ellis has been the owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005. He is a 10-year veteran of the United States Air Force, a political writer for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous election and public policy campaigns for nearly 20 years, including a Tea Party leader and organizer since 2009. He lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife and two children.
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