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Update: Debt Relief Amendment Sails Through Committee

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Set for House vote today; Pennsylvania and Michigan next in line to resist federal debt

BATON ROUGE, La. – The National Debt Relief Amendment – a state-initiated tactic against federal debt – has passed favourably out of committee without any objection. It is scheduled for a vote in the House today.

North Dakota Senator Curtis Olafson (R – Edinburg), who flew in to testify as the NDRA’s national spokesman, was met with as many welcomes and jokes as he was with questions. He was the prime sponsor of the same resolution in North Dakota, the first state to pass it.

Here is his testimony, introduced by Noble Ellington (R – Winnsboro), along with the discussion with Louisiana’s House Committee on Governmental Affairs (14 minutes).

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The proposed amendment, HCR 87, reads:

“An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the separate States.”

Olafson (pictured left) promoted the NDRA as nonpartisan, highly researched, and model legislation of the American Legislative Exchange Council. He also emphasized its necessity – that federal debt requires urgent restraint, with both major parties responsible for the problem.

The chief concern of opponents has been the potential for a runaway convention – one that would radically change the U.S. Constitution. Olafson says that the states are “the ultimate protection” and that opponents need to name 38 states that would adopt a dangerous or extremist amendment.

“Unless and until 38 states ratify a proposed amendment, the Constitution is untouched, and nothing changes.”

Both Olafson and Ellington were pleased with the committee’s response and are highly confident of passage through the legislature. At this stage, there does not appear to be strong opposition within Louisiana, and no opponents testified at the hearing.

Passage in Louisiana would bring more national attention for the NDRA and greater likelihood of passage in other states. Olafson is moving on to testify in Pennsylvania and Michigan, and he is pursuing further prime sponsors in other states.

For those interested in learning more, the Pelican Institute for Public Policy has released three articles to explain the logistics, history, and justification behind a state-led amendment such as the NDRA.

The Pelican Post also ran a commentary from Robert J. Thorpe in favor of state-led amendments, particularly for fiscal restraint from the federal government.

Fergus Hodgson is the capitol bureau reporter with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy and editor of The Pelican Post. He can be contacted at fhodgson@pelicaninstitute.org, and one can follow him on twitter.

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