Jason, Phil, Angela, and others at CPAC.
Former Congressional candidate and 2011 RLC Convention panelist John Dennis has been elected Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of California. Members of the California RLC met at their annual Convention on Friday in Sacramento, a meeting in conjunction with the California GOP Convention.
John Dennis (pictured below with RLC members), a San Francisco entrepreneur and father, took on Queen Nancy Pelosi during the 2010 election cycle. His campaign was endorsed by Cindy Sheehan, Log Cabin Republicans, and The San Francisco Examiner. Before entering his race, John founded the San Francisco chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus.
John also spoke on the foreign policy panel at the 2011 RLC National Convention on February 12 in Arlington, Virginia.
The newly elected California RLC Officers include:
Chairman: John Dennis
Vice Chairman: Rick Jacobs
Secretary: Parke Bostrom
Treasurer: Matt Heath
Learn more about the California RLC at www.rlcca.org.
It has become a tradition. Every year, dozens of RLCers make the trek to Tallahassee for the annual “Lobby Days at the Capitol” — two days of tangling with legislators, drinking at Clyde’s and Costello’s and getting briefings from economists, grassroots lobbyists and think-tanks.
It is a lot of fun, and camaraderie is always a welcome result. But it is more than just fun.
RLC’ers express the views of the membership on key issues directly to legislators and teach them about the liberty Republican approach to policy. The group chooses issues that emphasize liberty and urges principle over party. View the 2011 Florida RLC legislative agenda.
This year, the issues agenda was longer than usual and Florida RLC Board member John Hallman helped us press the right issues in the right offices to be most effective as he led 34 of us around the Capitol building.
Top issues included supporting the governor on tough pension reforms, cutting spending and taxes, banning of red light cameras, repealing the REAL ID act, several state sovereignty bills, eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing and repealing the state septic tank inspection program.
Interestingly, Smart Cap — the institutional spending restraint billed as TABOR and Taxpayer Protection Act in the past — was on the list but didn’t engender the same enthusiasm of years past. This idea, which traditionally would limit the growth of state spending or revenues to a combination of inflation and population growth, passed the Senate before RLCers had left town. The Senate bill was pushed by its longtime champion Senate President Mike Haridopolos, but had been watered down with exceptions and even with a padded formula that increased spending in the early years and hence raised the spending trajectory forever. As a result, most of our lobbying on Smart Cap was urging House members to adopt a tougher version.
Another surprise is the interest we found in Tallahassee for medical marijuana. The statewide coordinator for the MedMar referendum effort, new RLC member Kim Russell, joined us as we made our rounds and we discovered several rookie legislators of both parties supported the idea.
RLC members received a briefing from our chief advisor, FSU professor of economics Randy Holcombe, on several issues. Also, Bob McClure of the James Madison Institute briefed us on the work the Tallahassee-based think tank is currently working on. Additionally, RLC member Greg Newburn of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, as did representatives of Floridians Against REAL ID.
RLC members met with dozens of politicians as a group and individually, as time was provided for us to visit our own legislators. As a group, RLCers met with, among others, Reps. Jimmie T. Smith, Matt Caldwell, Jeff Clemens, Alan Hayes and Sens. Joe Negron, Greg Evers, Scott Plakon, Mike Haridopolos and Don Gaetz.
Pictured: At top, Senate President Mike Haridopolos goes through our legislative agenda commenting and answering questions from RLCers. Next, Rep. Matt Caldwell addresses RLCers about his memorial calling for Congressional term limits and other issues. At bottom, RLC members Bryan Donnelly and Steve Burden listen to FSU professor Randy Holcombe.
A special thanks to Florida RLC Chairman Matt Nye and longtime RLC member Philip Blumel for their efforts to organize the trip.
There are a host of upcoming Republican Liberty Caucus events that we want you to be a part of!
• Gary Johnson at South Michigan Area Republican Club
April 2, Berkley
• Central East Florida RLC Meeting
April 4, Indian Harbour Beach
• Orlando Area RLC Meeting
April 7, Winter Park
• Northeast Florida RLC Meeting
April 5, Jacksonville
• Los Angeles Area RLC Meetup with Governor Gary Johnson
April 7, Los Angeles
• Central Texas RLC Meetup
April 8, Austin
• Colorado RLC Organizing Meeting
April 9, Boulder
• Silicon Valley RLC Meetup
April 18, San Jose
• Central East Florida RLC Meeting
May 2, Indian Harbour Beach
• Colorado RLC Organizing Meeting
May 7, Denver
• Michigan RLC Convention with U.S. Rep. Justin Amash
May 14, Wyoming (Grand Rapids area)
• Wisconsin RLC Outreach at State GOP Convention
May 21, Wisconsin Dells
Contact Michael to volunteer.
• Maine RLC Leadership Conference
June 4, Augusta
• Virginia RLC Convention
June 4, Arlington
• North Carolina RLC Outreach at GOP Convention
June 3-5, Wilmington
Contact David to volunteer.
• North Carolina RLC Convention
June 4, Wilmington
• Utah RLC Convention
June 16, Draper
The Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida has developed a 2011 legislative agenda for its members to pursue.
The Florida RLC’s legislative agenda is an excellent model for other state RLC chapters to follow and implement.
1. Restore Our Constitutional Rights
• “Sovereignty of the State”: Joint resolution proposing the creation of Section 28 of Article I of the State Constitution, to assert the sovereignty of the state and refuse to comply with unconstitutional federal mandates. Support SJR1438/HJR1103
• “Intrastate Commerce Act”: A statute which provides that all goods grown, made or manufactured in Florida and sold within Florida shall not be subject to the authority of the Federal government. Support SB1478
• Scope and Exercise of Federal Power to Regulate Commerce: Urge Congress to honor provisions of U.S. Constitution that limit scope & exercise of federal power to regulate commerce. Support HM577
• Exercise of Federal Power: Urge the Congress of the United States to honor the provisions of the Constitution of the United States and United States Supreme Court case law which limit the scope and exercise of federal power. Support SM358
• Health Care Freedom Act: Creation of S. 28, Art. I of State Constitution to prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system. Support SJR2/HJR1
• Ban Red Light Cameras: Many studies show how unsafe intersections become after installation of red light cameras, with a dramatic increase in the number of crashes and serious injury. These studies also show cities have been found guilty of shortening the yellow light to increase violations in order to generate revenue. Outside the safety issues raised by installation of these cameras is the constitutionality of the systems. Our Constitution says citizens have a right to face their accuser, yet their accuser in this case is a machine. Support SB672/HB4087
• Repeal REAL ID Act: In 2008, the Florida Legislature enacted the REAL ID Act as 4 of 47 sections in a DMV bill. The law required citizens to produce an enormous amount of personal papers to either obtain or renew a Florida driver’s license. This personal information are then seized by the state and scanned into an accessible database. The REAL ID law was forced on the states by the Congress in violation of the US Constitution’s 10th Amendment and violates the Florida Constitution’s 4th Amendment “Right to Privacy”.
• Open Carry: Allow concealed-weapons-licensed gun owners to openly carry their weapons. Support SB234/HB517
• State Jurisdiction: Limit gun regulation to the state and prohibit all local governments from passing or enforcing gun rules and regulations. Support CS/SB402/CS/HB45
• Doctor Prohibition: Prohibit physicians from asking patients about gun ownership. Support SB432/HB155
2. Repeal Unnecessary and Burdensome Regulations
• Online Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems: Eliminates provisions directing DOH to create & administer statewide septic tank evaluation program. Support SB168/HB13
• Florida Climate Protection Act: Repeal provisions for Cap & Trade regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric utilities. Support SB762/HB4117
3. Cut Spending and Protect the Taxpayer
• Smart Cap: Amend Florida’s constitution to limit revenues collected by state government to the amount collected the previous year, plus an annual adjustment based on a combination of population growth and the rate of inflation. Any funds in excess of the limits will be placed in the state’s “rainy day fund” until that fund reaches 10 percent of the prior year’s total budget – at that point, the Legislature must vote to either provide tax relief or reduce property taxes.
• Stop High Speed Rail/Sun-Rail: The total cost of these rail projects will be devastating to our economy and the tax increases needed to operate the rail projects will take more money from the taxpayers. Spending billions on 1800’s rail technology such as Sun-Rail is a big mistake at a time when the Florida Legislature has to make cuts to essential services. We oppose state funding of rail projects.
• Pension Reform: Generous public pension benefits promised a decade or more are now placing significant burdens on many local budgets and although the state pension system isn’t in as bad shape as some other states, it is time to address it now before it does become a problem in the near future. The Florida Legislature should enact common sense reforms such as moving employees into a 401K style defined “contribution” plan. It is reasonable for the state of Florida to require government employees to contribute a portion of their salary into a retirement plan. Florida is currently the only state that does not have this requirement. Support SB1128/SB1130/HB1405
• Medicaid Reform: Our current Medicaid program is estimated to cost $20.2 billion this year, approximately 30 percent of our states budget. Sustaining a program that has been over-expanded, combined with new and expensive mandates from Washington from threatens to throw our state into further deficits and requiring more cuts to essential services. Support SB1972
• Property Insurance-Reduce Risk to Taxpayers: With Citizens Property Insurance becoming the primary insurer of property in Florida, the Florida taxpayer could be on the hook for billions of dollars if a hurricane of any significance hits Florida. Insuring Florida properties with state dollars will lead to huge debts, and all taxpayers will bear responsibility for that debt. Consumers in Florida would be served best by laws that attract new capital into the state; competition serves consumers better than regulation. Support SB1714/HB1243
4. Term Limits
• Congressional Term Limits: Urge Congress to propose to states amendment to U.S. Constitution to limit terms of office of members of Congress. Support HM685.
• Do not extend Florida legislators’ term limits: We believe term limits are the only way to prevent elected officials from becoming entrenched and beholden to special interest groups. We implore you to leave the current term limit for legislators in place. Oppose SJR 300/HJR 207
Learn more about the Florida RLC at www.rlcfl.org.
Republicans in Florida should be proud of the direction Governor Scott is taking the Republican Party (and state government). Thus far, there are several reasons to be pleased with Governor Scott’s budget and agenda:
• Scott proposed spending $4.6 billion less than this year’s budget and wants to eliminate seven percent of the state’s government jobs, which would mean about 6,700 state-worker layoffs — significant cuts and hard choices at a tough economic time. In fact, RLC member Kristi Dunn was recently interviewed about her support for Governor Scott’s budget;
• Tony Fabrizio, Scott’s campaign guru and advisor, polled the issue of legalizing marijuana in Florida and found that nearly 6 in 10 people support the idea — almost enough to pass a state Constitutional amendment. Of the 800 voters surveyed, 456 would have voted yes on a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana, but 344 would have voted against it;
• Governor Scott is working with the legislature to cut government waste. Legislators even asked the RLC’s input on what to cut;
• Governor Scott is a vocal opponent of the Obama health law and refuses to implement it in Florida unless it is found constitutional; and
• Governor Scott’s decision not to accept a $2.4 billion federal grant for a high speed rail project was a “courageous choice”, according to a congratulatory letter he received from the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida Chairman Matthew D. Nye.
Governor Scott spoke at a Republican Liberty Caucus of Central East Florida meeting in September, 2010.
The Florida chapter of the RLC will host its Lobby Days at the Capitol on March 14 and 15. The top issue on the agenda is a Taxpayers Bill of Rights for Florida.
From the New Hampshire Union Leader‘s John DiStaso:
“Tea Party leader and Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s schedule for Saturday, March 12: Bachmann will attend a coffee sponsored by the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire for lawmakers who are members of that group. It will be held at the new Liberty Harbor Academy, a new conservative educational institute in Manchester. The Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire is expected to become an important stop on presidential candidate schedules this year.
We will post additional details as they become available. This event will mark the first time the RLC has hosted Michele Bachmann at any event.
The state chapter has already hosted Governor Gary Johnson and Sharron Angle. They will again host Governor Johnson in late April.
Tonight the Republican Liberty Caucus of DC is hosting “How To Buy and Register a Gun.”
The event will occur at Old Dominion Brew House, 1219 9th Street NW (Mt Vernon Square/Convention Center metro) at 7pm. Event description:
“If you’re excited about the recent overturn of the DC gun ban but don’t know where to get started, come listen to RLC member Kris Hammond speak about how to buy a gun and get it registered in the District of Columbia.”
In July, 2008, the Republican Liberty Caucus of DC organizational meeting featured Dick Heller, a RLC member who helped us charter our affiliate.
Mr. Heller won the case Heller v. DC at the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for private use within the home in federal enclaves such as DC. He is subsequently fighting for additional rights in Heller II.
Colorado is a state that is ripe for a Republican Liberty Caucus chapter. Earl Bandy, an activist and RLC member in the Denver area, has set a meeting for members of the Colorado RLC on Saturday, March 12 at 10:00am. Members and interested parties will meet in the Lone Tree room of the Lone Tree Library at 8827 Lone Tree Parkway, Lone Tree, CO 80124. We will review a proposed set of bylaws, share our vision for RLC Colorado and lay the ground work for a successful convention in early April.
If you would like to renew your dues or join the Republican Liberty Caucus, you can do so at www.rlc.org/join-the-rlc/.
We will need to have ten dues paying members to sign our chartering application. At RLC.org you will also find the national bylaws and the RLC statement of principles among other worthwhile material.
A few weeks ago I received an unexpected call from Senator Olympia Snowe’s outreach coordinator inviting me, as Maine RLC Chair, to a meeting with the Senator. Also invited were representatives from other conservative organizations including tea party activists, constitutional conservatives and libertarians. Guests includes representatives from the Maine Legislature and the Republican State Committee.
The meeting was on neutral ground in a hotel conference room in Augusta. Ten of us sat around a rectangular table with Senator Snowe and two aides at the head of the table. The common thread was that all the participants represented factions of the Republican Party that were either critical of Senator Snowe’s moderate track record, and in some cases outright hostile to the Senator. The meeting was clearly an effort to reach out to the “right wing” (although, as a libertarian, I reject that label) of the Republican Party.
Senator Snowe began the meeting by thanking us for attending and stating that she wanted to have an open and frank discussion of issues facing the country as well as hearing criticism of her own voting record in the U.S. Senate.
Wow! That was certainly a bold thing for her to do given the ideological demographic of the room. What followed was a very civil yet frank discussion of the big issues facing the country. Olympia Snowe is one of the most seasoned and skillful politicians in the country. Her skills shone as she defended her record. She spoke extensively about some of the truly beneficial work she has done for the State of Maine: saving the Domtar paper mill in eastern Maine, saving the Kittery naval shipyard and consistently working to bring Federal funds to the state. There is no doubt that a good deal of her political success can be attributed to her excellent constituent service work.
Senator Snowe ably defended her voting record on health care. Some in the room thought that her support in committee for Obamacare was a decisive vote. In fact it wasn’t, and she made that clear. She explained that she had voted for the bill in committee in exchange for a promise from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the legislation would be open to Republican amendments when it reached the Senate floor. Reid broke his promise, she said. Snowe insisted that she is not only opposed to Obamacare now, but that she supports full repeal of the law. A recent vote of hers has actually borne that promise out.
At one point in the meeting when Snowe was accused of “voting against Republicans” we saw her become somewhat emotional. She recounted the time when her husband John “Jock” McKernan was the Governor of Maine. He was in the midst of a government shutdown resulting from a standoff with the legislature over workers’ compensation reform in the late 80′s. Then-Congresswoman Olympia Snowe was on the phone with her husband and she could overhear shouts and insults from protesting State employees who had been admitted to the state house by then-Speaker John Martin. Snowe commented that she and Jock felt that they were not supported by many Republicans at the time.
Olympia Snowe also defended her vote for TARP (the 2008 financial bailout bill) arguing that the country was at the edge of an abyss. She went on to announce that she would be sponsoring a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget as well as a higher threshold (3/5 vote) to raise taxes. The balanced budget amendment sat well with the invitees in the room.
What fell flat, in my opinion, were some of her answers to questions that should have been predicted from that crowd. Snowe seemed puzzled by a suggestion that the recent food safety bill was unconstitutional because it affected farmers who don’t sell their produce across state lines. Snowe even boasted that she was able to include a provision that farmers with revenues of less than $500,000 would be excluded. What about the potato farmer who brings in $500,001, but doesn’t ship one French fry outside of Maine?
Some in the room questioned the Senator’s membership of the Council on Foreign Relations and even asked if she supported George H. W. Bush’s reference to a “New World Order”. At that point we were getting into some really esoteric conspiracy theory territory. Nevertheless one would expect the Senator to at least understand the context of the comments and be able to respond appropriately. It really seemed to me that she was flummoxed (although she might have been just carefully considering the question). In fact I found myself in the awkward position of having to explain the issue. I also made clear my view that while there is a real threat to our constitution from those who would undermine US sovereignty with globalism, that wasn’t what Bush 41 was referring to in 1991. I would think that someone on her staff would have briefed her about this stuff before going into a meeting that included devotees of the John Birch society.
The genesis of this meeting was clearly a concern by Olympia Snowe’s political operation that she may be facing a primary challenge (we now know that she is) to her upcoming reelection effort in 2012. Snowe has long been seen as a thorn in the side of the “right wing” (again, as a libertarian I exclude myself from that label) of the party. It would be one thing if she were simply a social moderate and a fiscal conservative. That would certainly be okay with me and other libertarians. Her real problem lately has been on the fiscal conservative side of things. I refer specifically to the elephant in the room. The elephant that was never acknowledged at this meeting. That is the Obama stimulus bill. The gigantic budget-busting $800 billion attempt to stimulate the economy in early 2009. Senator Snowe was instrumental in the passage of that bill. The Tea Party movement was a direct reaction to the Stimulus bill, Obamacare just threw fuel on the fire.
Over her career, Olympia Snowe has certainly been a moderate, but a moderate with a libertarian angle. Every year the Republican Liberty Caucus ranks members of Congress on the Nolan chart-inspired Liberty Index. The Liberty Index ranks members of Congress on a pro-liberty voting index equally weighted between social issues and economic issues. Sen. Snowe has consistently scored above 50% on both axis. In fact, most recently she scores in the conservative quadrant with a better record on economic issues than social issues. That record has always earned Olympia Snowe support from me in her previous election campaigns. The question I struggle with now is whether her vote for stimulus was a deal breaker in the next campaign.
I wanted to keep RLC membership informed of this development. We should certainly make time to discuss it during our upcoming Maine RLC Leadership Conference — which is scheduled for April 23, 2011 in Augusta, Maine.
Chairman, Maine RLC