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As we approach the intense discussions and debate centered on the next biennium budget, the legislature has been working its way through various “Senator”, “Speaker” and “Committee” priority bills.
The first day of last week, the focus was on my priority legislation LR6. LR6 is a legislative Resolution to Congress for a Convention of States to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Article V allows, as part of our core Constitution, for two methods to “propose” amendments to the Constitution. One method, with which we are most familiar, allows our Congress, by a two-thirds majority to propose amendments to the Constitution. The second method, which is gaining in popular momentum, is for the states to call for a ‘convention of states’ for the sole purpose of “proposing” amendments. The crucial, common safeguard with method, is the required ratification by three-fourths of the states’ legislatures. That means that 38 states must agree on the proposed amendment. That is a tall order – and it should be!
As we have previously discussed, the Founding Fathers were skeptical that the Federal Government would be able to dutifully restrain itself. So, to allow the states to have a Constitutional mechanism to rein in an out-of-control federal government in the event the federal government superseded its Constitutional authority, our founding fathers created two options within Article V to propose amendments to the Constitution.
Why did I choose this issue for my priority bill? Our federal government was designed by our Founders to have limited powers, with all other unlisted powers being granted to the states. Bottom line, the states were granted higher authority, by the Constitution, over the federal government. Unfortunately, over time, “career politicians” have excessively taken authority away from the states. The result is a $20 trillion National Debt, a mountain of expensive and burdensome regulations both on individuals and businesses, and an erosion of our personal liberties.
LR 6 is a narrowly defined resolution. It parallels a nationwide effort to call for a convention of states. This resolution focuses on limiting the terms in office for federal office holders (term limits), fiscal constraint (some form of balanced budget amendment) and reduction in regulatory authority. After some hours of vigorous debate, we fell short by only a few votes from moving this legislative resolution to select file. It seems as though a verbal minority, using unfounded fear mongering, are OK with an out of control federal government which has created deficit spending our children into a huge national debt. Their laisez-faire attitudes towards fiscal responsibly threatens our nation’s very survival.
Currently, LR6 is not scheduled for further debate, however the resolution is still active and eligible to be brought back onto the floor. We have the votes to pass LR6! We need just a handful of swing votes to evoke cloture so we can cease debate and bring it to a vote. Nebraska needs to be on leading edge of this historic effort – to use the powers granted to the states by the Constitution to create positive change for all Americans.
Just as there are serious issues at the Federal level we too have serious fiscal issues in our state. Nebraskans are having to deal with a double hit of extremely high property taxes combined with a sluggish Ag economy has resulted in a huge shortfall in revenue to the state. This shortfall has resulted in a billion dollar budget deficit. The Revenue and Appropriations Committee have been working tirelessly since the session began and are about to present a proposed budget to the Legislature. Debate on biennium budget is schedule to start on April 21st.
Yes, we are about to drill into the most crucial of our responsibilities as state legislator – a balanced budget. There will be some pain but I believe the state should have to behave in the same manner as our families do when income slides, we tighten our belt to deal with the reality of revenue shortfalls. District 33 families are part of the economic engine that makes our state run smoothly. My priority will be on you! The state will thrive if you are allowed to thrive.
On a lighter note, I always try to add a little local flavor at the end of my addresses. We had the pleasure of meeting with several school groups from District 33 this week. Logon to my Facebook page “Senator Steve Halloran” to view these pictures.