N.D. state senator seeks federal debt amendmentA North Dakota state senator is getting attention across the country for his work to curb the nation’s rising debt. Sen. Curtis Olafson, R-Edinburg, has been featured on talk shows in Texas and Maryland, mentioned in Forbes and asked to participate in a panel at Harvard through his work with Texas-based RestoringFreedom.Org.
By: Teri Finneman, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — A North Dakota state senator is getting attention across the country for his work to curb the nation’s rising debt.
Sen. Curtis Olafson, R-Edinburg, has been featured on talk shows in Texas and Maryland, mentioned in Forbes and asked to participate in a panel at Harvard through his work with Texas-based RestoringFreedom.Org.
The group is trying to get legislatures across the nation to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that states an increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the nation’s state legislatures.
Congress isn’t limiting its ability to borrow or spend money, so supporters of the National Debt Relief Amendment are focused on a bipartisan state-initiated effort, Olafson said.
At $14.8 trillion, the debt amounts to more than $47,000 per man, woman and child, he said.
“You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in economics to understand that we are on a course that is completely unsustainable,” Olafson said.
Through Olafson’s efforts, North Dakota became the first state to approve a resolution stating the state favors a convention to be called for the federal debt constitutional amendment.
Article V of the Constitution states Congress shall call a convention for proposing amendments upon application of two-thirds of the nation’s legislatures.
A proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution when ratified by three-fourths, or 38, of the state legislatures, according to Article V. Congress may also allow ratification by conventions in three-fourths of states.
“Our founding fathers intended that we as state legislators would understand that we not only have a right to use Article V (of the Constitution), but we have a duty to use Article V when we see a serious problem at the federal level which Congress is not solving,” Olafson said.
So far, North Dakota and Louisiana are on board, with 32 more states needed to request an amendments convention. Right now, there are committed sponsors in 12 states and serious interest in another 12, Olafson said.
“We are really building a lot of momentum and a lot of people are learning about the amendment and people universally like it,” he said.
During discussion of the resolution in North Dakota, some lawmakers called the proposal “a long shot” and problematic. Limiting the federal debt means either cutting government programs or having states pick up the costs, they said.
Olafson said it’s a “very challenging process” to amend the Constitution and says it should be.
But he said he keeps in mind his 2-year-old grandson who hasn’t cast a vote and hasn’t signed a mortgage but who will be passed on the nation’s debt.
“We must take action to make it right,” he said.
Glenn Hughes of Restoring Freedom said Olafson has been a “real champion” and was one of the first legislators across the nation to respond to the cause. In the coming months, Olafson plans to travel to Colorado, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Ohio to continue to lobby the issue.
“If there was ever a time when we should be using Article V, it is now,” he said.
Teri Finneman is a
multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.