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Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘Take counsel of our fears,’ ‘Term limits are critical,’ ‘Follow the Constitution’

Among those testifying at this morning’s hearing on HCR 32, regarding calling for an Article V convention of the states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution:

Walt Donovan, a retired Marine Corps brigadier general and attorney, said, “Sixty-two years ago, along with others, I took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. I oppose this motion, this HCR, and I’m authorized to speak on behalf of the VFW Post 63 who also opposes this.” He said, “A balanced budget amendment, if adopted, is a bridge – it’s a process, it’s not an outcome.” He said, “You assume one state one vote – it’s overly optimistic. Article V guarantees equality of state presence – it does not guarantee equality of voting.” He noted that the Electoral College is in the Constitution, and grants, for example, 55 electoral votes to California and just four to Idaho; he said the states with power in the electoral college would ensure that voting in any Article V convention “will be done by EC numbers.” He said, “I oppose any Article V convention call. It really is time to take counsel of our fears.”

Tim Nielsen of Eagle said, “I know much of the focus is on budget, but my concern is just ... in Congress over the past decades things have gotten worse, and I think term limits are critical to cleaning things up both from a lobbying standpoint, and from a standpoint I think the founders of the Constitution may not have anticipated a couple of foibles in human nature beginning to corrupt the system, and those are greed and ego.” He said Congress in recent years “has become party first, people second, or folks that want to look for a great long-term role and then a job with a lobbying firm. I think if we get term limits in place, folks will be representing the people in the period that they’re there.” He added, “I hope that with term limits, there’ll be a lot more cooperation than we’ve seen. Things just aren’t getting done.”

Gerald Harbaugh of Caldwell said, “There is one question everybody really ought to think about, and that is if our legislators do not adhere to their oath to support and defend our Constitution now, why does any logical thinking person want to believe that they will adhere to any new amendments? It’s a waste of our time and money to do that. It will open up the potential for a disaster to our Constitution. … We already have the right to control our budget and everything else. Simple: Follow the Constitution. That is … if our elected legislators would follow their oath to follow the Constitution, we would have no need for any sort of a convention.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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