by Fergus Hodgson
Director of Fiscal Policy Studies
In the past two weeks, the National Debt Relief Amendment (NDRA)–what would be the first state-initiated amendment since original ratification–has attracted new legislative sponsors in four states: Montana, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin. The resolution, which I have promoted both in The American Conservative and with the Pelican Institute, calls for a limited amendments convention to propose the following amendment:
“An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the separate states.”
North Dakota and Louisiana led the way by passing the NDRA resolution this year with bipartisan support in both chambers, and the recent additions could result in twelve additional states joining in the NDRA convention call. The full list with the NDRA pending introduction or passage now includes Arkansas, Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
Serious discussions are underway with state legislators in an additional 12 states, according to James Booth of RestoringFreedom.Org, the organization that has drafted and promoted the NDRA. North Carolina may soon join that list… Watch this space.
Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, once 34 states have called for an amendments convention on the same subject, congress must provide a place and time for state delegates to convene and propose an amendment or amendments for ratification. This has yet to happen, but bipartisan momentum is building for that to change.
Since will at the federal level to address the debt crisis is almost non-existent, the Article V process, albeit cumbersome, appears necessary to achieve a structural change. The NDRA, as that solution, has the research backing and endorsement of the Goldwater Institute, one of America’s leading public-policy organizations, and the American Legislative Exchange Council also adopted the resolution as model legislation in January of this year.