The Ohio House State Government Committee held its first hearing on the Ohio State sovereignty resolution (HCR 11) Wednesday afternoon. By custom, the first hearing is usually reserved for testimony from the cosponsors. HCR 11's cosponsors, Reps. Kris Jordan (R-Delaware) and Jarrod Martin (R-Beavercreek) gave testimony in support of the resolution.
Rep. Martin discussed the Constitutional basis for the Tenth Amendment, and cited the No Child Left Behind Act, REAL ID, and a proposed transfer of terrorists from Guantánamo to Ohio as examples of how the Federal government has ignored the Tenth Amendment. He emphasized the non-partisan, non-secessionist nature of the resolution. Kris Jordan followed by noting that 35 other states have done the same, and by discussing a quotation of Thomas Jefferson, "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."
Rep. Matt Lundy (D-Avon Lake) asked both Representatives how Ohioans fear the Federal government, how liberties have been chipped away. The essence of Rep. Martin's answer was that Americans are fearful due to economic concerns, and that rights have been chipped away by Federal planning.
Rep. Lundy asked what Ohioans should do. Rep. Jordan answered that we should support HCR 11 and other language in support of sovereignty, then adopt State policies that implement these.
Rep. Lundy noted that Texas had put in stronger language -- why did we leave the secessionist language out? If there is greater Federal intervention, would Rep. Martin entertain the idea of secession? Rep. Martin's reply: "People aren't carrying pitchforks -- that kind of talk takes us out of serious debate, and we need serious debate on this issue."
Then Rep. Dale Mallory (D-Cincinnati), noting that Reps. Jordan and Martin had appealed so much to history, asked who George Washington's troops were fighting when they crossed the Delaware. The answer was that both Representatives were educated in the public schools and did not know the answer. (It was a trick question: the Hessians, British allies, were across the river).
It is hard to tell whether the testimony had any influence on the Democratic majority on the committee. On the one hand, the questions were more neutral than I expected. I thought that Rep. Lundy's question on secession was an effective ploy, brilliantly countered by Rep. Martin.
It will take considerable pressure by supporters of HCR 11, particularly in the districts held by the Democratic members, to secure a second hearing. Supporters (regardless of district) need to flood the Committee members with e-mails, letters, and phone calls in support of the resolution! Here is contact information for the House State Government Committee.