(Link to Interstate compact as an MSWord file)

A bill for an Act to create an interstate compact to establish, structure and empower the Constitution Settlement Commission of the States (Commission).

WHEREAS, the states created the government of the United States and conferred upon it certain powers enumerated in the United States Constitution;

WHEREAS, the states have reserved certain powers to themselves and to individuals;

WHEREAS, from time to time there is disagreement about the nature and scope of powers conferred upon the government of the United States by the states in the Constitution; and

WHEREAS, as a matter or principle, it is improper for the government of the United States, or any of its branches or agencies, to define the scope of the powers it has been granted by the states.

THEREFORE:

I.  States define the Constitution

The states declare that only the states may ultimately and properly define the nature and scope of the power intended to be and actually conferred upon the government of the United States by the states in the United States Constitution.

II.  Compact established

By compact among the several states, the states establish the Constitution Settlement Commission of the States.

1.  Parties to the compact.  Every state which adopts this compact shall remain a member of the compact in good standing as long as that state remains compliant with the duties and responsibilities of a member.

2.  Purpose.  The purpose of the Commission is to provide a mechanism for a final decision from the states concerning what powers the states have granted to the government of the United States in the United States Constitution.  The purpose is not to overthrow or supplant the government of the United States, but to define its scope, purpose and power.

3.  Duties.  The Commission shall render decisions about the nature and scope of power authorized to the government of the United States by the states in the United States Constitution.

4.  Decisions final.  A decision rendered by the Commission is final and may not be amended or overturned by any agent or branch of any state, any agent or branch of the United States, or by any other nation or organization of nations.

5.  Sources of information.  The commission may consider any sources of information it wishes, including the wording of the Constitution of the United States, the writings and speeches of the founders and others in the founding era, the enactments or recorded debates of Congress or state legislatures, the opinions of any United States or state courts, arguments made by proponents or opponents to any question submitted, or any other.  No opinion of the government of the United States, including its courts, or of any state or state court is binding upon the Commission.

6.  Location.  The Commission shall maintain its office in or near Denver, Colorado.

7.  Commission formulation; quorum.  The Commission is comprised of a minimum of nine delegates.  Delegates participating from a majority of states joining this compact shall constitute a quorum for the business of the Commission.

8.  Commission attendance.  Commission rules must allow Commission delegates to participate in Commission business physically, or electronically without being physically present, as long as such participation is documented.

9.  Delegates appointed by states.  A single delegate from each compact member state may be selected by the state and must be confirmed by the state senate of each compact member state.  A delegate is confirmed for a term of four years.  No person may serve as a delegate beyond one term.  A delegate vacancy shall be filled by the same process.  A state senate may make its own rules for nomination and confirmation of the state's delegate to the Commission.  A state senate may withdraw confirmation of and replace its delegate at any time, and for any reason it deems sufficient.  If a state senate should withdraw or replace its delegate to the Commission, it must provide documentation of that act to the Chief Delegate within ten calendar days of the act.  To be properly seated on the Commission, every delegate to the Commission must present credentials of delegation from the state senate of that state to the Commission.

10.  Delegate eligibility.  A delegate must have been a resident and elector of the state for at least ten years immediately prior to appointment before confirmation by the state senate.  The states are exhorted to consider persons for delegates who have studied the principles of constitutional government and aspects of state sovereignty and individual liberty, but no participating state may make academic credentials, election to other office, or a license to practice law a prerequisite for a person's nomination as a delegate candidate or for confirmation as a delegate.

11.  Business year.  The business year of the Commission shall commence at Noon on the second Monday in January of each year.  The Commission may recess from time to time by a majority of voting members of the Commission, and will continue through as much of the year as the Commission determines in order to consider and decide issues presented to it.

12.  Selection of interim secretary.  On the first day of the first business year, the delegates present shall by majority vote elect a delegate as an interim secretary for the process of seating voting members of the Commission and of electing a chief delegate.  The interim secretary shall chair the first meeting to select the first chief delegate.  In subsequent years, the last chief delegate of the previous year shall chair the first meeting of each term to select the chief delegate.

13.  Commission chief delegate.  On the second day of each business year and under the supervision of the interim secretary for the first day, the seated delegates to the Commission shall by majority vote elect one of the delegates as the chief delegate.  The chief delegate shall be responsible for the good order of the commission and for the efficient and proper conduct of the Commission business for the remainder of the year.  Upon election, the chief delegate shall replace the interim secretary. A vacancy in the office of chief delegate may be determined and declared by an affirmative vote of 2/3 of the seated delegates of the Commission.  In the event of a vacancy in the office of chief delegate, that office shall be filled in the same manner as on the second day of the annual session.

14.  Other Commission officers.  The delegates to the Commission shall elect or appoint a Secretary, who may or may not be a delegate, and who shall be responsible to maintain the records and communications of the Commission in good order.  The delegates to the commission shall elect or appoint a Treasurer, who may or may not be a delegate, and who shall be responsible for the sound conduct of the financial affairs of the Commission, including any periodic reports to the Commission that the Commission may require.  The Treasurer may be required by the delegates to post a bond for the faithful performance of the Treasurer's duties, in an amount and under conditions specified by the delegates.  The delegates to the Commission may elect or appoint other inferior officials as needed.

15.  Commission rules.  Operating rules for the Commission may be adopted by the delegates, which rules may be readopted or amended by the delegates from time to time or for each term.  Where Commission rules are silent, Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure shall apply.

16.  Delegate participation.  Every delegate to the Commission may participate in any hearings, discussions, deliberations and votes of the Commission.  No delegate in good standing may be excluded from any Commission business.

17.  Submission of questions.  A question about proper application of constitutional power proposed or assumed by the government of the United States may be submitted by the Governor, the Senate, the House, or the Attorney General of any member state, by the President, the Senate, the House or the Supreme Court of the United States, or by a petition signed by 1,000 electors of any one member state.  The Commission may accept or decline any request to answer any questions posed to it.

18.  Implementation of decisions.  Any decision rendered by the Commission may be implemented or disregarded by state members of this compact, and by any other state, however or to whatever extent the state may choose.

19.  Payment of Commissioners.  Every state confirming a delegate to the Commission must pay the salary and state-determined benefits of that delegate, which amount shall be equal to the amount that state pays its governor or the chief justice of its supreme court, whichever the state may choose.  A state may pay or reimburse the travel expenses of a delegate to and from Commission meetings.  A delegate may not accept any other compensation for or related to his or her service on the Commission.

20.  Payment of Commission Operating Expenses.  Every state entering into this compact is obligated to pay a share of the costs of operating the Commission.  To pay for the operating expenses of the Commission, each compact member state must pay each year no later than the beginning of the annual term of the Commission three times the total amount that member state pays its governor each year in salary and benefits.

21.  Notice of meetings of delegates.  The chief delegate must notify every delegate to the commission of every meeting of the Commission at least five days in advance of that meeting.  Such notice may be by any means approved by the Commission, including electronic.

22.  Attendance at meetings; absence.  A delegate may elect to participate in a meeting of delegates by electronic means, which shall be deemed sufficient presence.  No proxy votes may be exercised or accepted.  Any delegate may be excused an absence by a unanimous vote of other delegates.  If a delegate should have three consecutive unexcused absences or a total of ten absences during one calendar year, that delegate position may be declared vacant by a majority of the other delegates and the position filled by the state senate of the state which appointed the delegate.

23.  Duration.  The duration of this compact shall be indefinite, and the participation of each state adopting the compact shall be until the state repeals the compact adoption.  Seating of a state's single delegate to the Commission may not be denied as long as the state's delegate is confirmed and documented by the state senate and the state's dues are paid within the time prescribed.

III.  Compact amendment; withdrawal

This compact is subject to amendment by two-thirds of the states party to the compact.  Any state may withdraw from this compact by repeal of its act of joining the compact.

IV.  Provisional organization

The Speaker of the House of Representatives of the first state to enact this compact shall be the interim secretary of the Commission for the purpose of identifying other states enacting this compact, and for scheduling and announcing the first meeting of the Commission, which meeting must be scheduled to occur within 90 days of the enactment of this compact by the ninth state to enact this compact.

End