House speaker Lubnau introduces measure similar to ALEC model billBy 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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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