Warren County village backs movement to limit federal government

One of Warren County’s smallest governments has backed a plan to put more checks on the federal government.

Waynesville Village Council members approved a resolution supporting the call for a Convention of States, supporters say, to rein in the federal government. Some officials said Waynesville was Ohio’s first local government to adopt such a resolution.

State lawmakers would have to vote to add Ohio to the list of states endorsing the call for the convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

The convention would be used to consider fiscal restraints and curbs on the power of the federal government, as well as limits on time in office for federal judges, lawmakers and officials heading federal agencies, supporters say.

While 34 states would have to agree to call the convention, “we have 12 states that have actually passed it in both legislatures,” said Ken Eppich, media liaison for the Convention of States Ohio Project.

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Bills in both branches of the Ohio legislature have languished, prompting the state organization to join volunteers in Texas, Virginia and Kentucky resorting to appeals for local support, according to Eppich and Amy Frederick, a Warren County resident involved in the Ohio movement.

“This is a way to take a movement like this from the ground up,” said Frederick, a Wayne Twp. resident leading the effort in southwestern Ohio.

Frederick lobbied for passage of the resolution with Waynesville Councilman Chris Colvin after they met in May at a Convention of States rally outside the Statehouse in Columbus.

Next, they plan to lobby trustees in Wayne Twp., the unincorporated area around Waynesville, and respond to inquiries from elsewhere in the region.

“We’re going to take our show on the road,” Colvin said. “I personally think this is our chance as a nation to get back to what the founding fathers intended our nation to be.”

The idea for the resolutions came from organizers in California.

After Waynesville’s council passed the resolution, 6-1, on Nov. 19, the state group issued a press release declaring it “the first political subdivision in the Buckeye State.”

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No one other than the Convention of States organization is apparently tracking progress in getting local governments to pass resolutions, non-binding on state lawmakers.

“I’m sure we’re the only one who succeeded,” Colvin said.

Frederick said “a couple” local governments in South Carolina have passed resolutions.

Last week, supporters were disappointed by the lack of action on a bill on the agenda of the Ohio Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee.

With the legislative session coming to a close, State Rep. Scott Lipps, R-Franklin, said he advised the group on how to get a new bill introduced next year.

While a supporter, Lipps said he was too busy with other legislative work to carry the Convention of States bill in the next legislative session.

“They have had a difficult time getting traction,” Lipps said. “There are state representatives that feel there’s going to be a runaway convention.”

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Supporters point to the three focus areas as proof the convention would be controlled.

Nationwide, more than 1.1 million have signed an online petition for the convention since the group was formed in 2013. The group claims 3.5 million supporters, including 50,000 in Ohio.

According to Eppich, more than 6,000 residents in Montgomery, Butler, Warren, Greene and Miami counties had signed petitions supporting the convention, and more than 500 were volunteering.

Conventions of the states predate the United States. Another group is working for a convention of states on a federal balanced budget amendment that was endorsed by the Ohio in 2013.

Waynesville Councilwoman Kimberley Kaan, the only ‘no’ vote on the village resolution, said she personally supported the call for the convention to rein in the federal government.

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“I felt like it was an issue that was outside my job description as a Waynesville council member to weigh in on,” she said.

Colvin said local lawmakers should be working to see more federal tax spent locally, rather than competing against each other for federal grants.

“The goal is to bring as much of that tax revenue back home. That’s where it’s most needed,“ he said.

Colvin expressed confidence the convention would be called.

“It’s gaining steam. I believe it’s going to happen,” he said.

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