House speaker Lubnau introduces measure similar to ALEC model bill 

By Gregory Nickerson
February 14, 2014

Yesterday Wyoming’s Speaker of the House Rep. Tom Lubnau (R-Gillette) successfully introduced a bill to prevent the scenario of a runaway convention to amend the U.S. Constitution. The bill closely resembles a model bill provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-funded organization of state legislators which favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions, as stated on its website.

In an interview with WyoFile, Rep. Lubnau said he was inspired to bring the bill after he received an email from a constituent. “I get probably 250 emails a day and I try to read them all, and this approach intrigued me so I looked into it further,” Lubnau said. “To say this is a bill from an organization isn’t necessarily accurate.  This is a concept I liked and wanted to bring to this body for the reasons I said on the floor.”

ALEC article V Bill (click to enlarge)

Rep. Lubnau co-sponsored House Bill 27 with Rep. David Miller (R-Lander). The measure engages with a nationwide effort led by state legislators who would like to employ a provision within Article V of the United States Constitution. That section says that if 34 states agree to call a constitutional convention, they can nominate delegates and pass amendments without needing to put the measures before Congress. Some supporters of the movement see it as a way to pass an amendment requiring a balanced federal budget, which they believe Congress would be unlikely do on its own.

The idea of calling an Article V convention has been around for decades. During that time, political thinkers discussed the possibility of a “runaway convention.” In that scenario, delegates could show up at a convention and pass amendments that damage the current constitution, or directly contradict the purposes for which the convention was called.

“Before we call a constitutional convention we need to prepare,” Lubnau said while introducing the bill. “I am deathly afraid of a runaway convention.”

The bill sponsored by Lubnau and Miller would keep delegates from proposing amendments outside of the charge issued to them by the Wyoming Legislature. Specifically, it calls for a fine and disqualification of any delegate who introduces an unauthorized amendment.

House Bill 27-Article V borrows language from the ALEC model bill. (Legislative Service Office — click to enlarge)

“It is a bill to prevent betrayal of the people of the state of Wyoming if a constitutional convention is ever held and it runs away,” Lubnau said.

When asked about the bill’s connection to ALEC, Lubnau explained that the bill follows on the work of the Madison Coalition, which is a strong proponent of the Article V process.

“They are interested in pushing back on federal government overreach but are afraid of a runaway convention,” Lubnau said. “To stay true to constitutional principles they want to make sure we protect the document we have.” Lubnau noted that Roman Buhler, an investment manger from Washington D.C. who is director of the Madison Coalition, may be in Cheyenne next week to testify in favor of the bill before committee.  

Lubnau’s introduction of the bill offered an Article V convention as a way for states to push back against federal power. “The feds’ actions have become bolder and more intrusive every year. Like a frog in a pan of water the feds are slowly turning up the heat on our state government to the point where we will not have any authority,” he said. “Bureaucrats who have never been to Wyoming pass regulations based on ideas and rumors that have no relation to what happens in Wyoming. I am amazed at their audacity.”

Rep. Kendell Kroeker (R-Evansville) spoke against the bill. “I don’t think this bill calls for (an Article V convention) but it’s a step in that direction. That’s why I’ll be voting against it,” Kroeker said. “My biggest issue with a constitutional convention is that our constitution is not broken. We have the finest document that ever created a government.” He then stated the federal government is ignoring the constitution, and that he doubted amending it would change that situation.

The bill passed with a vote of 51 in favor and 9 opposed.  Among those voting against the bill were several Democrats and socially-conservative Republicans, according to voting records.

Click here to read the bill introduced by Rep. Lubnau. The ALEC model bill from which it is derived is available here. For more about ALEC, read this WyoFile feature: ALEC Model Bill Group Triggers Calls for Transparency.

Note: This article was updated to include Lubnau’s statement about the origins of the bill and its connection to the Madison Coalition.
 
— Gregory Nickerson is the government and policy reporter for WyoFile. He writes the Capitol Beat blog. Contact him at greg@wyofile.com. Follow him on twitter @GregNickersonWY.
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Gregory Nickerson

Gregory Nickerson worked as government and policy reporter for WyoFile from 2012-2015. He studied history at the University of Wyoming. Follow Greg on Twitter at @GregNickersonWY and on www.facebook.com/GregoryNickersonWriter/

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5 Comments

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  1. Just 5 short years ago, Wyoming lawmakers, expressing fears surrounding an Article V Convention, approved Enrolled Joint Resolution No. 3 (previously designated as House Joint Resolution No. 7 by Brechtel) which reads in part:

    “WHEREAS, a Constitutional Convention called and convened for any one purpose could result in a complete rewriting of the United States Constitution with no rules or precedent whatsoever to follow; and

    “WHEREAS, the convening of a Constitutional Convention during these troubled times represents a clear and present danger to our established system of justice, to the common defense of our nation, to our general welfare and to the ordered form of liberty which we have inherited from our forefathers, cherished for ourselves and earnestly desire to defend and conserve for our posterity; and

    “WHEREAS, these rights and privileges were endowed unto us by our Creator; and

    “WHEREAS, these clear and present dangers far outweigh any possible benefit of convening a Constitutional Convention at this time; and

    “WHEREAS, we, as members of the Legislature of the State of Wyoming, have sworn a solemn oath to support, obey and defend the United States Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic….”

    What could have changed in 5 short years to shift Wyoming legislators 180 degrees from OPPOSING the calling of an Article V Convention to now SUPPORTING an Article V Convention?

    GREGORY WATSON
    Sunday, February 16, 2014

  2. RBD and Cecil— Please reread the article before you shoot the messenger.
    Honestly , guys…it’s the WYOMING Legislature, not the ALEC or Madison Coalition legislature. A citizen legislature of elected residents to guide a state from within, by it’s own ways and means.

    For all your undying love of State’s Rights and seeming desire to see Wyoming remain fiercely independent of the rest of the Union , why do you appear to support legislation before the Wyoming Legislature that’s imported from inside the WashingtonD.C. Potomac Beltway incanted by high dollar corporate apparatchiks in the employ of the Koch Bros. ? Is that really how we want Wyoming’s residents to be guided by civil democracy ? For ALEC is not democracy at work at all …it works against democracy , actually. Consolidation of policy interests nationally , one state rep and state legislature at a time but guided by a shadow government of special interests concentric with a subversion of politics at the l;evel of Congress. Which by association means Lubnau and the 37 other members of the Wyoming legislature who are members of or allegiant to ALEC are putting corporate-driven interests and national reactive politics ahead of your own state’s unique best interests. How can you get behind that , honestly ? ALEC kinda reminds me of the Nazis in their formative years 1920-1935, and I am not one to use the Nazi metaphor lightly , ever.

    I stand behind my assertion that any state rep who hand carries ALEC bills to the floor of a Statehouse has abrogated his/ her democratic responsibility and integrity. But I see once again you would rather play a game of ” Shoot The Messenger ” than engage the actual issues at hand…

  3. I saw the title of the article and said “Uh-oh, Dewey is not going to be happy…..”

    And sure enough, Dewey is already on it…….

  4. Dewey,
    You posts sound like a “one horse show”. God forbid that ALEC ceased to exist, what would you do for a new windmill to tilt at?

  5. I am amazed at Lubnau’s lack of perspicacity .

    He’s quoted here saying ” “Bureaucrats who have never been to Wyoming pass regulations based on ideas and rumors that have no relation to what happens in Wyoming. I am amazed at their audacity.”

    As if certain Wyoming legislators really know what’s going on at ground level in their own state. Judging from the nature of some of the bills they propose, they don’t. Obviously , if they are hand-carrying ALEC boilerplate bills to their own peers, it means they really aren’t doing their own critical thinking. I honestly do not want the Koch brothers and their ilk setting the Wyoming agenda and monkeywrenching state policy.

    ALEC is nothing if not audacious. And I might add Anti-Democracy.