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Campbell legislators explain votes on Convention of States

While the Wyoming Senate passed a resolution calling for a Convention of States, the measure failed in the Wyoming House of Representatives.

Wyoming State Capitol (Lisa Hushbeck/Cap City News)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — While the Wyoming Senate passed a resolution calling for a Convention of States, it failed in the Wyoming House of Representatives.

If the resolution had passed, the Legislature of the State of Wyoming would have asked Congress to call a Convention of States to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution that would restrain what it said are the federal government’s abuses of power.

The resolution said the federal government has created a crushing national debt through improper and imprudent spending, invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative process of federal mandates, many of which are unfunded mandates, and ceased to operate under a proper interpretation of the Constitution.

Sen. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, and Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, were among the bill’s co-sponsors. Sen. Troy McKeown and all but one of Campbell County’s representatives voted against passing the resolution.

The resolution passed 17-13 in the Senate and failed 21-41 in the House.

County 17 emailed all Campbell County legislators to find out why they made the voting decisions they did.

Apart from the response from Clouston, who called County 17 to discuss the legislation, the responses are wholly verbatim.

House of Representatives

House District 32 Rep. Ken Clouston said he voted in favor of the resolution because he’d take his chances with a state convention.

“I trust the decisions of 75% of our states more than I trust the decisions of our Congress right now,” Clouston said. “I’d feel better about those states passing something than Congress trying to change things.”

Wyoming would also receive an equal vote in the convention, compared with its representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. He said that while some expressed concerns that the convention would pass something that Wyomingites wouldn’t agree with, there are enough conservative states that he wasn’t concerned about that risk.

He said he believes Congress and the federal government aren’t addressing issues, like the national debt, that the country’s facing.

“This may be the only way to bring it to the forefront,” he said.

The convention would be a way to decrease federal overreach, he said.

“Our forefathers, they set up this Article 5 just for this reason; if the federal government got out of hand, the states could take some of the power back,” he said.

House District 53 Rep. Chris Knapp

My personal reasons for voting no are the following:

We have the Constitution of the United States being ignored, violated and misinterpreted today. The federal government simply ignores the Constitution and continues to create law by executive privilege.

Until we stand up and unite this will continue. I am continuously disturbed by the empathy in voting that controls what kind of government we chose to enforce our God given rights. Voter apathy continues to plague America and our ability to curb spending, reduce regulation and support our 2nd amendment rights as well as other freedoms. If we pass more amendments to the Constitution that just continue to be disregarded by liberals, we must take a new route.

I am also concerned with the selection process for representation. If Wyoming cannot put forward a conservative representative imagine what other states will bring to the convention to join them. Our Constitution was written by men of faith, conviction, and conservative principles. If most representatives sent are reflective of a more moderate view, what we write into our founding document may be disastrous. I do not feel the people choosing our delegate share Wyoming conservative values. It may end in utter disaster changing our founding Constitution forever.

Regarding term limits, I feel the ultimate term limit we control is our vote. I believe we showed our resolve loud and clear by sending Rep Liz Cheney packing after she rejected Wyoming values and constituents. WE THE PEOPLE have the freedom to choose who we want to represent us at any given election. If they have done well and continue to stand for freedoms, Wyoming values and culture we should want them to continue. If they do not, we can show them the door. If we exercise this right there would be no reason for term limits.

I am just as frustrated with our government at the federal, state and sometimes even the local level. That is why I feel forced to run for office, the is why I educate myself in as many issues as I can, but most of all that is why I vote.  We CAN make a difference. When we do we elect representatives matching our own values and then and only then can we have the faith that a Constitutional Convention can be safety and confidently convened.  

House District 3 Rep. Abby Angelos

I do support the purpose of the amendments for SJ0011, however I did not support SJ0011 better known as Convention of States, for a couple of reasons. First there is a high risk of a “run-a-way” convention, in fact the only convention of states that we have had, (the one that authored the constitution) was a run-a-way and thank goodness we had leaders that had the foresight to write our constitution. With the last two elections, we have seen the left mobilize to move our current government towards a socialist and even a communist one. If we were to open a convention, there is a good chance that the left could take advantage of this and change our Bill of Rights. Secondly, it states that the Legislative Leadership would choose who was to be our states delegate. This concerns me, as our current legislature is not conservative. I would be concerned with whom they would choose to represent us as a delegate. I am a patriot and someone who is deeply protective of our Constitution, with that, we do not have a problem with our constitution as written, we do have a problem with how elected officials are interpreting the constitution. Those very people who misinterpret are the ones pushing for us to amend or open the constitution to be, God-forbid, rewritten. I have done quite a bit of research on Article V, and the alarming ties to Soros-Linked funding.

There are several mainstream conservatives that have shown support for this, however there are others that are adamantly against it. The late great Rush Limbaugh was against changing the constitution and Glenn Beck has pulled his support from a Convention of States. I have also discussed these very issues with constitutional lawyers, and they are against it, as was the late Conservative Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia. In his wisdom after decades practicing and studying our constitution, he changed his view on a Convention of States and was openly opposed to it.

The problem of requesting a Convention is, each state is not bound to request for the same reasons…. this would cause problems with the states not coming to convention in full agreement. If you have read how they are proposing to “amend” our 2nd amendment, this alone is a big red flag and should warrant caution, the proposal would gut our gun rights. Here is the proposed new 2A- “Neither the States nor the United States shall make or enforce any law infringing the right to keep and bear arms of the sort ordinarily used for self-defense and recreational purposes, provided that States and the United States in places subject to its general regulatory authority, may enact and enforce reasonable regulations on the bearing of arms, and the keeping of arms by persons determined with due process, to be dangerous to themselves or others.”

With this language, who decides what constitutes “ordinarily used for self-defense and recreational purposes?”

House District 52 Rep. Reuben Tarver

These are a few of the reasons.

I don’t trust our federal government and I don’t trust the politicians that we would send from our states. Because we have elected politicians to come to Cheyenne and cut spending, protect individual rights, lower property tax, cut regulations and lower overall tax burdens. To name just a few. Which we have done very little to accomplish any of these goals.  So that’s why I don’t trust them. Actions speak louder than words.

They don’t follow the constitution we have, so what makes us think they’ll follow new amendments.

We have to educate ourselves and get the people to vote out these corrupt politicians.

We don’t have a bad constitution, we have a corrupt government.

Wyoming House District 31 Rep. John Bear

I wholeheartedly support the movements to amend the constitution to include:

– A balanced budget amendment.

– An amendment requiring all laws passed by congress to apply to those elected to congress.

               I have been supportive of a term limit amendment in the past, but now that we have removed Liz Cheney, I believe that is not necessary.

I do not support convening a convention of states currently to accomplish those amendments, because the risk of a “run-a-way” convention is too high.  If these last two elections have told me anything, the left has mobilized and is determined to change our form of government into one of socialism or communism.  Should we open a convention, there is a better than good chance that the left would take advantage of the situation and could possibly remove some of our bill of rights. I want to keep those liberties our founders fought and died for including the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to keep and bear arms.

Historically, whenever the nation got close to holding a convention, congress reacted and amended the constitution per the desires of the people prior to a convention convening.  I do not trust our current congress to bend to the will of the people today, so the threat of a convention is no longer a good strategy.

Campbell County’s representatives in the Wyoming Senate didn’t respond to request for comment.