Letters to decision-makers

Reader feedback at end

Most of SAFE’s writings are intended for SAFE members and the world at large. “Cast thy bread upon the waters,” etc. At times, however, we reach out to specific parties who may be in a position to determine the outcome on a particular issue. Some rules of thumb for such letters: be timely (send them shortly before a decision is to be made or promptly after something notable has happened), focus on policy vs. personalities, offer clear-cut recommendations, and be concise.

As it happens, there has been a flurry of such letters lately, on a variety of subjects, and a recap (including links to the letters) will take the place of our usual long-winded essay this week. Reader feedback on any of the letters would be greatly appreciated.

A somewhat similar approach was used in the
2/26/18 blog entry entitled SAFE to DC: Please fix this problem. In that case, however, the linked letters were all on the fiscal problem with individualized appeals to eight participants in the action.

I. Fiscal problem – The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform has held three public meetings to date and will soon be starting to worry about its prescribed deadline (Nov. 30). Having watched videotapes of their sessions and done a bit of research, we just sent the members a letter with the overarching theme that they should worry more about contributing to a solution of the fiscal problem and less about restoring peace and harmony in DC.

Two ideas that had come up in the JSC meetings are endorsed, two others opposed, and a major omission is noted. SAFE’s letter offers several suggestions for the path forward, in each case naming a witness who could be helpful. And by cheating on the margins and font size, the letter was held to a single page. Let’s hope the addressees will read it, and better yet act on it. JSC letter,

II. Article V convention – There’s a school of thought that some judiciously selected constitutional amendments (balanced budget, term limits, etc.) are needed to restore the government to proper working order. And since it’s quite unlikely that 2/3 of the members of both houses of Congress would vote to limit their own power, the only viable option is a convention called for by 34 (or 2/3) of the states in accordance with Article V. Convention of states, SAFE newsletter, Fall 2017.

It recently came to our attention that two conservative groups are attempting to organize an Article V convention, Convention of States Action (COSA) and the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force (BBATF). After SAFE members had participated in several COSA events, a letter was received from the BBATF urging us to support their efforts. Further correspondence with BBATF confirmed that the two groups are working at cross purposes.

SAFE subsequently suggested to COSA that they might be able to accelerate their efforts to hit the 34-state number (they currently have 12 states signed up) by making peace with the BBATF and finding some way to combine the signup counts of the two groups. Letter to Mark Meckler of COSA,

No response to our letter has been received, and at this point none is expected. But we’re glad to have offered a potentially helpful suggestion for a conservative cause and, as the saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

III. Gun controls – There has been a slew of proposed gun control legislation in Delaware this year, and in many other states as well, sparked by the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida that caused 17 deaths and many injuries. SAFE doesn’t normally have a point of view about gun controls, but we felt some of the proposals were being offered for political purposed rather than being justified on a policy basis.

The most controversial proposal was an “assault weapon” ban bill, which had been blocked in a Senate committee. Gun control advocates were beside themselves, and there was a drumbeat of criticism in the state’s largest newspaper that culminated in a fiery editorial about how supporters of the bill deserved a vote. Assault weapons vote a moment of truth, News Journal,

Shortly before a vote on whether to bring the bill to the floor, SAFE e-mailed DE senators in opposition. Note re assault weapons ban,

The motion to suspend the rules was subsequently defeated and the bill died in committee. No doubt the purported need for an assault weapons ban will be debated this fall,. but for now the issue is closed. Many conservatives contacted their legislators before this particular vote, so we can’t claim credit for the outcome, but it was gratifying to be on the winning side for a change.

IV. Offshore wind – Since September 2017, a Working Group appointed by the governor has been reviewing whether Delaware should (or perhaps how it could) get involved in supporting offshore wind projects.

To us, it seemed obvious that offshore wind power would offer no advantages that would justify its high cost and large environmental footprint. Let Maryland, New Jersey, et al. waste their money if they choose, but Delaware should be smarter. An interim report in December seemed to be diplomatically shelving the idea. DE offshore wind power, SAFE newsletter,
Winter 2017.

The study continued, however, and in due course a meeting of the Working Group was scheduled for June 22 to review a “final report” that had not yet been published.

On June 21, SAFE commented re the “final report” via e-mail, with copies to everyone on the notification list, to the effect that the Working Group should recommend against state support for any offshore wind projects. Public comment re final offshore wind report,

Perhaps it was coincidental, but a lengthy draft of the final report was sent out later that day, thereby ensuring that Working Group members would at least have a chance to read it before the meeting. The gist seems to be that Delaware should be “open” to offshore wind projects. Time will tell what happens, but one might think that the First State should find other issues to worry about (such as fixing a high-cost school system that provides mediocre results).


#Your faithful scribe mentioned having just hit the Big 80 in the transmittal note, and several readers responded with good wishes. Join the club, the next 10 years are going to be great, etc. Thanks very much to all of you!

#We haven’t heard from any members of the Joint Select Committee or Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, but the other two witnesses that SAFE nominated have responded enthusiastically:

•I’d be delighted. Michael Tanner, Cato

•Thank you very much for the suggestion that I be invited to testify before the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. They have held three hearings so far and scheduled a fourth that will include members of Congress. I hope they will consider groups like CAGW for future hearings. We of course continue to work closely with the Budget Committee staff on reforms that may be included in the FY 2019 budget resolution. – Tom Schatz, Citizens Against Government Waste

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