Philip Blumel: On your marks, get set. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the term limits movement for the week of January 13th, 2020. A new year is the starting gun for legislators across the country who are gearing up for their 2020 sessions. Many will be considering term limits convention bills. In what states are our best prospects this year to be found? Let’s ask US Term Limits executive director, Nick Tomboulides for a preview.
Philip Blumel: Hey, Nick.
Nick Tomboulides: Hey, Phil.
Philip Blumel: So it’s 2020, new legislative sessions are starting and that means that our ongoing project to try to convince as many states as possible to call for a amendment writing convention under article five of the constitution limited to the subject of congressional term limits is underway. So we’re going to be bringing this idea to more state capitals this year. Just to remind our listeners, we’ve passed three states so far that have made the official call for an amendment writing convention limited to the subject of congressional tournaments. Several more states have made calls that include term limits. So we’re making progress on this and I think 2020 will be another year of progress. What do you think, Nick?
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, I could not agree more. We are targeting more states in 2020 than we ever have before. We’re going to have a bill filed in at least 10 states and in five of those states, we believe we have a very strong chance of passage in the 2020 session. These legislative sessions are starting up right now. Some of them have already started. Some of them will be starting in the next couple of weeks. So most politicians are running around like chickens with their heads cut off right now, but our teams have been deployed in our target states and they’re going to be working alongside these guys and doing everything they possibly can to get passage secured.
Nick Tomboulides: I would say that our top five legislative targets this year are West Virginia, Arizona, Utah, Georgia and Louisiana. All five of those states have a track record of being for term limits and we’re not talking about the people, of course. The people in all 50 states are overwhelmingly in favor of term limits, but in these five states, the legislators in state capitals have shown a receptiveness to term limits. They’ve shown a receptiveness to the article five amendment writing convention process, and we’ve already done a lot of groundwork in these places. We’ve set the tables. In four of these five states, we have already passed a single chamber at some point in the last couple of years.
Philip Blumel: Great. So we have a lot of groundwork done in these states.
Nick Tomboulides: We do, we absolutely do. Now, sometimes the difference between state House and the state Senate is dramatically different. You have different leadership styles, you have different opinions of term limits, but what we have always working in our favor is that the constituents in every member’s district are for term limits and we need to let these guys hear about it. We need to reemphasize for them that if they don’t vote for term limits, their constituents might vote them out.
Philip Blumel: Right. Every time you go back to a state, particularly one where we’ve won one House, we’re on firmer ground. First of all there we’re coming back with legislation they’ve already seen. They’ve already seen public support for it.
Nick Tomboulides: Yes.
Philip Blumel: And in between last session and this one, I know that we haven’t been idle, we’ve had our activists and volunteers working in these states and legislators have been hearing from us. What do you think of these five states, where do you think our best prospects lie for 2020?
Nick Tomboulides: I would say that our top target state is West Virginia. We’ve got a lot of bipartisan-
Philip Blumel: We almost won that one.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. Well, we’ve got a lot of bipartisan support out there. Last year, we did pass the state House by an overwhelming vote; it was 55-42. The resolution went over to the Senate and then on the last day of the session, it was brought up for consideration. We believed we had the votes, but unfortunately a single Senator named Mike Romano chose to filibuster that and deny West Virginia, an up and down roll call vote on the resolution and of course, we’ve gone after him hard. We’ve put up a billboard in his district that has been up for months and we’re just like terrorizing him. So I don’t think he’s going to be as big of a problem this time. 81% of West Virginians support term limits and our team is back with double the strength in 2020.
Philip Blumel: His constituents overwhelmingly support term limits. He is the one who is opposing them because of course, he is a politician himself.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, he’s thumbing his nose at them. It’s one thing to say, I personally don’t like term limits as a Senator and I’m going to vote against it when it comes to the floor. But what he did was he grinded the legislative process to a halt. He ran out the clock like a football coach, got the session to expire at 12 midnight so no vote could ever be held. What he did was really just a repugnant and disingenuous thing. He didn’t just express opposition to it. He had a Machiavellian strategy to try to kill us and we’re not going to let them do it this time.
Philip Blumel: And it was literally at midnight. You and I were live streaming the session and this guy was carrying on about how bad term limits are and this and everything, and also a bunch of random talk just to fill time like many filibusters are. It came to midnight and all of a sudden the gavel fell and it will be lost and I was so angry.
Nick Tomboulides: It was like Cinderella where the carriage turns back into a pumpkin again.
Philip Blumel: Yeah.
Nick Tomboulides: It was very dramatic. There was a gong noise and then the Senate president slammed the gavel because by law, they have to end the session at midnight on a particular date. So this year, we’re going to try to bring it up very, very early. We’ve got a great sponsor in the state Senate, guy named Randy Smith, who is committed to bringing up early. We’re going to get these bills filed in the next week or so, and then we’re going to be off to the races.
Philip Blumel: All right. Well, that’s fantastic. I know we’ve done so much work in West Virginia and we had a vote count going into that vote before that filibuster by Mike Romano and we felt it was in the bag.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. Another cool thing is we are increasing our support in West Virginia over last year. We had the votes last year, but now we’re doing even better. We’ve deployed Aaron Dukette and Shanna Chamblee on our team to West Virginia and in just the last week, they’ve gotten three new state senators to sign the term limits pledge.
Philip Blumel: Oh, great. And that pledge says that they’ll what? Vote for this bill?
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. That they’ll cosponsor and vote for the bill.
Philip Blumel: Co-sponsor.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, so we’ve got Senator Clements, Senator Weld, Senator Swope who’ve all signed on this week. We’re at 58 total pledges among incumbent members of the West Virginia legislature between both chambers. So we’re in a very strong position right now. We just need to close the deal.
Philip Blumel:: Good work, you guys working there in West Virginia. Fantastic.
Scott Tillman: Hi, this is Scott Tillman, the national field director with US term limits. We ask candidates for the state legislature to sign a pledge to help us get term limits on Congress.
Scott Tillman: The pledge reads, “I pledge that as a member of the state legislature, I will cosponsor, vote for and defend the resolution applying for an article five convention for the sole purpose of 19 term limits on Congress. There are many legislative elections coming in 2020. In the last few weeks, we have had seven candidates in Arkansas, six candidates in North Carolina, 35 candidates in Texas and over a dozen candidates from other states who have signed this pledge to support congressional term limits from the state legislature. In Michigan, Adam Stockard, a candidate for Michigan’s 58th house district pledge to take no action that would aid or abet the abolition or lengthening of Michigan’s term limits. This is an important pledge if you’ve been following the attacks on Michigan’s term limits by lobbyists and career politicians. You can view stock for signing the pledge on the US term limits YouTube channel. If you have access to a candidate, please ask them to sign our pledge. Pledges are available at termlimits.com.”
Philip Blumel: And then the other states, I know that we’ve had votes in Arizona. That’s been a really good one for us in the past and I guess we’re back there again this year.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, Arizona is a very interesting state. We’ve gotten through the state house twice, once more. The Senate is the problem. I wonder if the Senate’s are not the problem more often in these states because politicians and Senate have been around longer. It’s almost like a self-proving thing for term limits. They’ve gotten out of the house, then they might move to the Senate so they’re more seasoned. But still, we have great support there. It’s going to come down to the Senate President, Karen Fann and we hope that she is willing to bring it forward for a vote. If it comes to the floor, we believe we have the votes to pass, but we have to get it there first. S if you live in Arizona, politely contact Senate President Fann and ask her to bring it forward so we can get a vote, we can get members on record.
Philip Blumel: Isn’t Senate President Fann a pledge signer herself?
Nick Tomboulides: She is.
Philip Blumel: That’s what I thought. Yeah. So that’s a good indication. We’ll naturally be following the action in all these states. So there were three others. Anything to bring up about those? What were they again?
Nick Tomboulides: Louisiana, Georgia and Utah. In two of those, in Utah and Georgia, we’ve passed a single chamber. Utah, we’ve previously gotten through the state house. Georgia, we’ve previously gotten through the state Senate. In fact, in Georgia, we don’t even need to pass the state Senate again in 2020. The passage carries over from 2019. So our activists in Georgia, our volunteers just stay focused on one thing; getting the vote in the state house. If you go to termlimits.com and you go to our action page, you can find a link that will let you contact members of the Georgia legislature.
Philip Blumel: There’s a lot of room for activism across the country, but particularly in these five states we’re discussing. Please stay attentive to our website, everyone, because there’s going to be action items, there’s going to be things to be doing all session and we always need to act on these things very quickly.
Nick Tomboulides: There’s also going to be direct opportunities to show up in person and be involved. I’ll give you one example. West Virginia, we’ve got a capital day on a Friday, January 17th at 10:30 AM. So if you come to the West Virginia state capital inside the rotunda on the second floor, you’re going to find a bunch of people with term limits shirts and they’re going to go around talking to members of the legislature and asking for a vote.
Philip Blumel: Great, and how do people sign up to do that? It must be on our website.
Nick Tomboulides: It is, yes. If you go to term limits.com/wvhome, you’ll find all the information about West Virginia. You can also find our Facebook page, West Virginia Term Limits.
Philip Blumel: Okay, well this is all very exciting. It’s going to be a great year. Now it’s early though, so there’s probably not a whole lot action yet or maybe there is.
Nick Tomboulides: Well, there is some action. It’s a come out of an unexpected place. Believe it or not, we just had a floor vote in the state of New Hampshire. We were not expecting to pass in New Hampshire, was not one of our top tier target states, but through the sheer grit and tenacity of Ken Quinn, our Northeast regional director, we actually did get the floor vote. We got some members on record. It was a doozy in terms of the overall numbers. The first thing that happened was a committee vote and the committee voted that this was inexpedient to legislate, which is exactly what you think it is, that term limits is not important, that committee voted-
Philip Blumel: Right.
Nick Tomboulides: … 10 said it was inexpedient, two said it wasn’t, and there were eight who are not voting. Unfortunately, New Hampshire, it’s a state run by Democrats, but there’s this guy in the Republican leadership named Al Baldasaro. He’s a seven term state rep. He’s the biggest obstacle in New Hampshire. He claims to be a Trump guy, but then he won’t help Trump drain the swamp with term limits. So he constantly obstructs these bills because he’s apparently a Trumper in name only. So Baldasaro let a little revolt to try to strip this bill down to the bare bones and make it so ineffective that it basically wouldn’t mean anything. Meanwhile, our sponsor, Betty Gay, was determined to get the bill to the floor in New Hampshire. Moving a bill to the floor is important because even if it doesn’t pass, you have a treasure trove of information about where all the legislators stand. She was pushing to get it to the floor, whereas the anti-term limits members were trying to avoid a vote.
Nick Tomboulides: What it came down to was this, it came down to the leadership in New Hampshire agreed to have the vote, but they didn’t want anyone on record. So they have a special little feature in New Hampshire where if 10 people do not stand up and call for a roll call, then they get something called a division vote where they take the vote, but no one’s name is attached to their vote. So there’s zero accountability when you do it like that. What we had to do, what Ken Quinn’s challenge was to find 10 members who were willing to stand up on the floor and demand the roll call so we know where everybody stands and just-
Philip Blumel: Did he do it?
Nick Tomboulides: He did it. He did it.
Philip Blumel: I shouldn’t have asked the question. It’s Ken Quinn we’re talking about here. That’s fantastic. Great work, Ken.
Nick Tomboulides: So Ken took volunteers to the capital. They stood outside the chamber. They had term limits, signs, term limits tee shirts, literature.
Philip Blumel: Fantastic.
Nick Tomboulides: He was calling and texting members to get the 10 people who would stand up. He had a couple who had to defect, who had to go home because they had personal emergencies and he still managed to find the 10 who would stand up and do it. So the roll call vote was held. We were crushed, mind you, in the roll call. It was a 318 to 27.
Philip Blumel: Ouch.
Nick Tomboulides: That’s how little the politicians in New Hampshire think of the 80% of Americans who want term limits, but nevertheless, you lose the battle but you make progress in the war because we can now go forward, use this information in election time. It’s a lot like the Alamo. You may have suffered a defeat here, but in the long run, this is going to galvanize us. It’s going to help us win.
Stacey Selleck: Mark your calendars. February 27th is National Term Limits day. With a renewed push to impose term limits on the US Congress, a new national day has emerged from the term limits movement. The idea is simple enough. On February 27th each year, everyone is encouraged to make a show of public support for term limits. This can be as simple as posting a term limit sign in your yard or wearing a term limits tee shirt or hat on term limits day, Thursday, February 27th this year. We’ll be Facebooking, tweeting and promoting videos on social media using the hashtag, #termlimitsday to send a message to remind our federal and state representatives that the masses support term limits. Remind those politicians that our support is not passive. We expect action from our representatives and we expect it now. Why February 27th? That’s the date that commemorates the ratification of the 22nd amendment to the Constitution which impose term limits on the president of the United States. If term limits are good enough for the president, they’re good enough for Congress.
Stacey Selleck: Here are some ideas for February 27th, Term Limits Day activism: post a pro term limit sign in your yard. You can make one of your own or purchase one from the store at termlimits.com/store; hang a pro term limits banner over a busy overpass, maybe, “Happy term limits day, February 27th,” or, “term limit congress,”; organize a sign wave at a busy intersection, “honk if you love term limits,” and enjoy the public support you’ll hear from passers by; use the term limits day as your annual reminder to contact your representative on the issue. Go to term limits.com/legislators and use the online tool. This takes no more than five minutes to contact both your federal senators and your US House rep. Wish them a happy Term Limits Day and remind them you favor a congressional term limits amendment to the Constitution; take a selfie holding a happy term limits day sign and posted on your social media. Send an email to all your friends wishing them a happy term limits day and suggest to them that they sign the citizens online petition for congressional term limits at termlimits.com.
Stacey Selleck: We need to have a huge push on social media and we want everyone to contact your Congress members, asking them to co-sponsor SJR1 in the Senate and HJR20 in the House. Also, if you know any candidates or legislators who have signed the pledge and support term limits, please ask them to also participate in these Term Limits Day activities. Whatever you decide to do, on February 27, make sure you document it. Send pictures to Term Limits Day at termlimits.com. It will be shared with 1 million plus Facebook followers. Be sure to use the hashtag, #TermLimitsDay. Thank you for your support
Nick Tomboulides: School board term limits are back, baby.
Philip Blumel: All right.
Nick Tomboulides: Back in the state of Florida.
Philip Blumel: That’s good. I know that the big news is we have that bill for eight year tournaments for all the school boards in the whole state is back in the legislature. It’s been entered by state representative, Anthony Sabatini but there’s a new state Senator that’s sponsoring it over in the other House, Lauren Book.
Nick Tomboulides: Yes.
Philip Blumel: Tell me a little bit about Lauren. I don’t know her.
Nick Tomboulides: Florida is one of the most politically diverse states in the country, as you know. That’s why our elections are so close. That’s why everyone is sitting on the edge of their seats every four years waiting to see whether we go blue or red. We’ve got really red areas and we’ve got really blue areas. Lauren book is from the deepest blue part of our state; Broward County sandwiched between Palm Beach and Miami. She is as progressive and Democratic as they come and she’s a term limit supporter. Politically, she’s the polar opposite of our House sponsor who is a dyed in the wool, a conservative Republican. She is a progressive Democrat and amazingly they are working together. They’re working together because term limits unite all Floridians. So she’s filed the Senate companion. This is the first time we’ve had a Democratic sponsor. She was in the news yesterday. She was asked by a Florida state radio, “Well, why are you doing this?”
Nick Tomboulides: And she basically said, “I’m disappointed with my school board.” As you know, there was a Parkland tragedy in Broward. It was a very sad thing and once that happened, they had a panel that came out with these mandates for how to make the schools more secure. Unfortunately, the school boards didn’t implement most of that. They sat on their hands. They were focused more on serving special interests. They were serving more on advancing their own careers and they lost sight of their priorities.” And she said, “That was the story that brought me to supporting term limits. I didn’t before, but now I think eight is enough.” So it’s an incredible story in Florida. It’s a story of people from both parties working together and doing something amazing for the good of our state.
Philip Blumel: Right. Well, we know from polling and we’ve had very recent polling on the subject. In 2018, we found that 82% of Florida voters supported Constitutional amendment term limiting all school board members to eight years. We did polling in 2019, by polls showed that 84% of voters preferred a term limit of eight years rather than 12 years. When you break that down, 85% of Republicans supported this idea of eight year term limits, 80% of Democrats and 82% of Independent. So it should not be very surprising that we have a Democrat and a Republican sponsor. I think that mirrors what the people are asking for, so that’s tremendous.
Philip Blumel: Now, we’ve been down this road before. Now, you and I worked very hard on this. U.S. Term Limits worked very hard on this. We have a lot of activists and volunteers in Florida have worked very hard on this. This is our third try. So now the bills have been reentered again with more backing with the polling still there. We’re going to work on it once again and I think we have our prospects a lot better this year of getting that on the ballot for a vote of the entire state and I’m quite confident that the voters will approve it. Polling certainly indicates so.
Nick Tomboulides: That’s great. Last year, we were looking for a Democrat to help us out in the Senate and vote for it. Now, we’ve got a democratic sponsor in the Senate who is widely respected, who is known as a leader in her caucus. So I think she can make the argument persuasively to her colleagues that this is a great thing for the state of Florida, great thing for Democrats and Republicans.
Philip Blumel: And for the citizens. I’m gearing up for Term Limits Day coming up on February 27th and I went and spoke at a political meeting the other day. I asked if I could have two minutes to make an announcement and I was told I could. I had all my signs that said, “Term Limit Congress,” out in the hall outside the meeting. I made my announcement that… I basically asked the question, “Are there any term limit supporters in here?” And of course, there’s lots of applause naturally. And I said, “Okay, great. This room is in line with the electorate of the United States of America,” and mentioned the polling. And I said that, “We need to let politicians know this every year and a great way to do that is via Term Limits Day. This is the second iteration. And ask them to make some kind public show of support for term limits on that day.”
Philip Blumel: So I said out my mountain hall, “If you want to pick up a sign for your yard, pick one up, give me your email address and your name so that I can send you a reminder on the night before February 27th, to put the sign out in the morning,” and I was mobbed. They took all my signs. In fact, I had to take a bunch of names of people that we’ll have to drop a sign on their lawn for them because we ran out of science. I had order some more. So people love this idea. All you need to do is go out and ask them.
Philip Blumel: Thanks for listening to the No Uncertain Terms podcast again this week. We’ll finish up with a special request to all West Virginia voters. Last year, US term limits resolution for term limits on Congress passed the house 55 to 42 with three absent. Unfortunately, it was denied and honest up-down vote in the Senate when Senator Mike Romano filibustered it and the clock ran out on the session. This year, we can prevent that from occurring again by asking the leadership kindly to move the resolution for consideration early in the session. Please send a friendly email to Senator Charles Trump, Senator Mitch Carmichael, Speaker Roger Hanshow and Delegate John Schott, who are all supporters of the resolution to encourage them to bring the resolution up for votes early in the session in January. To do this, go to termlimits.com/WVearlyvote. That’s all one word. So it’s termlimits.com/WVearly vote. Thanks. We’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: The revolution isn’t being televised. Fortunately, you had the No Uncertain Terms podcast.