Pelican State joins North Dakota to lead anti-federal debt initiative

BATON ROUGE, La. – Achieving a highly improbable turnaround, Rep. Noble Ellington’s (R-Winnsboro) resolution for an anti-debt amendment to the U.S. Constitution has won approval from the Louisiana Senate.

The final vote yesterday evening was 24 for and seven against, following the House’s overwhelming 73 to zero approval. However, the resolution was on the ropes last week after it faced stiff opposition and was deferred in its Senate committee hearing.

In a surprise move on Sunday, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee reexamined the resolution and chose to report it favorably for the Senate vote.

As a resolution, it does not require the governor’s signature, so Louisiana is now the second state, after North Dakota, to support the proposed National Debt Relief Amendment. It reads:

“An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the separate States.”

North Dakota’s sponsor, State Senator Curtis Olafson (R-Edinburg, pictured left), has twice made the trek to Louisiana to testify as the initiative’s national spokesman. He praised Ellington’s work and gave him credit for the turnaround as a highly skilled legislator. (Click below to hear his original testimony, along with discussion in Louisiana’s House Committee on Governmental Affairs – 14 minutes.)


Olafson says this provides great momentum and a stepping stone for other states, and he has identified Michigan and Pennsylvania as the most likely next prospects. Thirty-two additional states will need to sign on to trigger the amendments convention. Following the convention, three-quarters (38) must ratify the amendment for it to go into force.

The American Legislative Exchange Council has made the NDRA model legislation, so Olafson and RestoringFreedom.Org, which drafted the NDRA, will promote the initiative at ALEC’s annual meeting. It is set to be in New Orleans from August 3 to 6.

Glenn Hughes, chairman of RestoringFreedom.Org, says the NDRA offers an external check on Washington’s cash-flow and that “Louisiana’s passage sets the stage for broader acceptance at the upcoming ALEC convention.”

RestoringFreedom.Org is a Texas-based non-profit “dedicated to developing and promoting non-partisan solutions to America’s challenges.” Here is their press release from 1pm EST, in PDF form. In it they explain the mechanics of how the amendment could go into effect, and they say “Rep. Ellington, the incoming ALEC chairman, has positioned Louisiana as a leader in addressing the federal debt crisis…”

For a broader explanation of the National Debt Relief Amendment, listen to Jeff Crouere of WGSO’s Ringside Politics and his interview with Fergus Hodgson – 10 minutes.


The Pelican Institute has published research on the state-initiated amendments process, and The Pelican Post has run a commentary on the matter as well.

Fergus Hodgson is the capitol bureau reporter with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy and editor of The Pelican Post. He can be contacted at, and one can follow him on twitter.