‘Rally in Tally’: Florida Team Members Urge Legislators and Americans to Support a Convention of States

'It's about our future. It's about our existence. It's about getting back to our founding as our founders intended.'
By Patricia Tolson
Patricia Tolson
Patricia Tolson
Reporter
Patricia Tolson, an award-winning national investigative reporter with 20 years of experience, has worked for such news outlets as Yahoo!, U.S. News, and The Tampa Free Press. With The Epoch Times, Patricia’s in-depth investigative coverage of human interest stories, election policies, education, school boards, and parental rights has achieved international exposure. Send her your story ideas: patricia.tolson@epochtimes.us
February 10, 2022 Updated: February 11, 2022

TALLAHASSEE, Florida—Despite chilly winds and overcast skies, around 50 Convention of States Action team members gathered for what has become known as the Rally in Tally, to urge legislators and Americans to support a Convention of States.

On Tuesday, Feb. 8, Florida Convention of States (COS) team members gathered for their annual visit to the state capital in Tallahassee, otherwise known as the Rally in Tally. For Brenda Karlin—a regional director for the COS organization in Florida—the day began at 7 a.m. with a prayer service on the 22nd floor of the Florida State Capitol building. At 8 a.m. Karlin met with legislators to deliver information packets and to observe legislative proceedings from the gallery. By 11 a.m., Karlin’s group had set up a table in the courtyard by the Capitol Steps and by 11:30, over 50 team members had gathered to share their enthusiasm for a movement that is nearly 10 years in the making and may finally be nearing fruition.  As she sat in a quiet conference room, beyond the cacophonous din of voices exploding through the expansive marbled lobby of the Capitol Building, Karlin shared her thoughts about what could be a historic calling for a Convention of States.

Brenda in the lobby of the Capitol Building in Tallahassee, Florida on February 8, 2022.
Brenda Karlin in the lobby of the Capitol Building in Tallahassee, Fla., on Feb. 8, 2022. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

“Our Constitution currently has 27 amendments,” Karlin. “This is a process under our Constitution to propose amendments to the Constitution. There have been other Conventions of State, but they came because Congress saw the writing on the wall and decided to put something in that addressed whatever an issue was. But this will be the very first Convention of States that will go through the entire process of holding an Article Five Convention of the states to propose amendments to our Constitution.”

“The Convention of States resolutions being passed by state legislatures is calling for states to meet and propose Constitutional amendments,” Karlin said. There are three specific topics the Convention of States Action is hoping to address. The first is term limits for Congress and the bureaucracy of unelected officials behind them. The second calls for fiscal responsibility. “That means more than just a balanced budget,” Karlin asserted. “You have to have some fiduciary responsibility with our tax dollars, controlling spending, not spending more than you’re taking in.” The third would address federal overreach.

Article V of the United States Constitution states that “whenever two thirds of both Houses” of Congress “shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution.” As the Founding Fathers knew members of Congress would try to exceed their constitutional authority, they also made sure the United States Constitution provided that constitutional amendments can be proposed by “two thirds” of the existing states. As we currently have 50 states, at least 34 of them would have to get the measure passed through committees and their respective Houses and Senates and then they would have to “ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths” of said 50 states before they were actually added as amendments to the Constitution.  It’s a long and tedious process. It was intended to be that way. Yet while some argue that this endeavor is “dangerous” and claim the United States Constitution is being “threatened as Article V Convention movement nears success,” others—like Karlin—insist the Founding Fathers drafted Article V expressly for moments like now, when “people are getting tired of government, particularly the federal government, being in their lives.”

As it stands, 17 of the requisite 34 states have called for a Convention of States. They are:

  1. Georgia March 6, 2014
  2. Alaska April 19, 2014
  3. Florida April 21, 2014
  4. Alabama May 22, 2015
  5. Tennessee February 4, 2016
  6. Indiana February 29, 2016
  7. Oklahoma April 25, 2016
  8. Louisiana May 25, 2016
  9. Arizona March 12, 2017
  10. North Dakota March 24, 2017
  11. Texas May 4, 2017
  12. Missouri May 12, 2017
  13. Arkansas February 14, 2019
  14. Utah March 5, 2019
  15. Mississippi March 27, 2019
  16. Wisconsin January 25, 2022
  17. Nebraska January 28, 2022

 

COS map of the states regarding the Convention of States movement.
COS map of the states regarding the Convention of States movement. (With permission of the COS organization.)

“We just passed two more, so we have a total of 17,” Karlin exclaimed, “and we’re very excited as momentum picks up and people become more aware of what Convention of States is all about and how important it is.”

States currently considering the Convention of States Resolution in 2022 are Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

States in which the Convention of States Application has passed in one chamber but not the other are New Mexico, Iowa, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, New Hampshire, and most recently, South Dakota.

A COS team member holds the American Flag during the Rally in Tally on February 8, 2022.
A Convention of States Action team member holds the American Flag during the Rally in Tally on Feb. 8, 2022. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

Karlin works with the teams in seven of the 17 passed states to grow grassroots awareness. As Florida signed on in April of 2014, Karlin was asked why COS continues to hold their Rally in Tally.

“Passing the resolution is just the beginning,” Karlin explained. “It’s about self-governance. We call ourselves a ‘passed state.’ But we have to continue to build our relationship with our legislators and we need to continue to educate our fellow Floridians, our fellow countrymen, on what Convention of States is all about and what it means to be self-governing under our Constitution to retain our liberty. We also help other states that haven’t passed yet on how to do that. Mainly it’s about continuing a relationship with our legislators and educating our fellow Floridians.”

To Karlin, the Convention of States momentum is largely successful due to the grassroots work being done by organizations such as hers in increasing awareness. “We are an activist organization,” Karlin said. “We have over five million supporters across the country, and I believe we’re doing our job. People are getting tired of government, particularly the federal government, being in their lives.”

Asked if someone wanted to get involved with the COS organization or to find out if their state had signed on, Karlin suggests people go to conventionofstates.com and sign the petition. “There’s a button there that says, Take Action,” Karlin noted. “Join one of our teams. We’re in all 50 states and we’d love to have you.”

Asked if she had a personal message she would like to share with her fellow Americans, Karlin said, “If you value our Constitution, if you value your freedom, if you value your liberty or want your children and your grandchildren to live in a free society according to our founding. If you’re not happy with the way things are going. If you’ve participated in elections and you’ve done your civic duty and you’re still seeing this encroachment and you’re interested in doing something, not just looking at Facebook pages, you’ll want to join Convention of States because COS is one of the last things we can do, nonviolently, to reign in our federal government on those three areas. It’s about our future. It’s about our existence. It’s about getting back to our founding as our founders intended.”

Peter Barber, a volunteer activist for the COS movement in Florida, District 85, at the Rally in Tally on February 8, 2022.
Peter Barber, a volunteer activist for the COS movement in Florida, District 85, at the Rally in Tally on Feb. 8, 2022. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

To Peter Barber, a retired salesman, it’s important for our younger generation to educate themselves about the Constitution and the structure of the Republic.

“If you talk to a young person, they think the federal government does everything,” Barber told The Epoch Times. “We were set up by our Founders to be states driven. Now the federal government wants to be in control. They’ve gone so far as to say they want to nationalize elections. The Founding Fathers said we are run by states. That’s why we have such division now and now people are voting with their feet. That’s why Florida is filling up and California is emptying. What the Founding Fathers said would happen is happening. The states are becoming either a free state like Florida or they’re becoming controlled like New York and California.”

Jim Kallinger, a former Florida State legislator currently the president of the National Association of Former State Legislators, says the Founding Fathers never meant for our nation to have a “one size fits all approach to governance.”

Former Florida Rep. Jim Kallinger speaking at the Rally in Tally on February 8, 2022.
Former Florida Representative and President of the National Association of Former State Legislators Jim Kallinger speaking at the Rally in Tally on Feb. 8, 2022. (Brenna Rummel)

“If you go to our website, you’ll see there are certain areas we are focused on,” Kallinger told The Epoch Times. “One of them is Article Five” and “engaging our currently elected legislators on issues of balanced federalism, state sovereignty, and representative governance. It fits into our purpose of engaging state legislators to make sure they are vigilant in guarding against the national authorities that, by nature, get bigger and more centralized.

“Our hope is these men and women stand up to this and put that genie back into the bottle and restore state sovereignty and balance federalism as seen by our founders.” Kallinger asserted. “We’ve really gotten off track and the way we’re going to do it is through our state legislators. The founders never intended us to be a one size fits all approach to governance. They looked at the states as being little laboratories of democracy, debating and competing with each other on issues, policies, and ideas. Someone from Washington telling people in California what to do and telling people in Florida what to do doesn’t work because we’re two different states and the people are very different.”

A Convention of States supporter holds the COS Action flag at the Rally in Tally on February 8, 2022.
A Convention of States supporter holds the COS Action flag at the Rally in Tally on Feb. 8, 2022. (Brenna Rummel)

According to Kallinger, “the Founders gave us state sovereignty and the authority to govern on issues that are individual to the state and are not coming from a national authority, and we’ve gotten away from that. Now we have a national government that’s trying to dictate to us. Now they’re even trying to nationalize elections when it specifically states in the U.S. Constitution that the time and place and manner of elections shall be determined by state legislators. They were very specific on that and even that is being ignored up in Washington and they’re just pushing stuff on the states and the states are letting it happen and that’s a problem. That benevolent dictator might be pushing something you like. But that dictator could change one day and start pushing things you don’t like. A post office, coining and regulating the value of money, maintaining an armed force; there are very limited functions of the national government and we’re letting them get beyond that and we’re seeing the consequences of that. That’s why I think we’re seeing a lot of acrimony and partisanship in the country right now. I think it’s because we have a dictator, and it doesn’t matter what party it is. But someone from Washington telling us what to do and people don’t like that.”

Convention of States member Lynette at the Rally in Tally on February 8, 2022.
Convention of States member Lynette at the Rally in Tally on Feb. 8, 2022. (Brenna Rummel)

For Lynnette Miesen, the COS movement “has meant a lot for a long time.”

“Not only are we continuing to inform our new legislators, we have continued to get more petition signers,” Miesen told The Epoch Times.

“We just got Nebraska!” Miesen exclaimed. “That was exciting! It’s starting to happen because people really realize right now that the federal government is doing with mandates what they could never pass laws for.”

According to COS District Captain Dave Gantt, the rally in Florida is about reminding people that the current state of chaos in our country is not “the way it’s supposed to be.”

Dave Ganett at the Rally in Tally of February 8, 2022.
COS District Captain Dave Gantt at the Rally in Tally of Feb. 8, 2022. (Patricia Tolson/The Epoch Times)

“They call it The Rally in Tally,” Gantt told The Epoch Times, “and people from all over the state come here to talk to the legislators. We are a passed state. We passed in April of 2014. The federal government is showing how much power they have over us and that isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. We’re supposed to have power over them. Where in the Constitution does it say they can mandate you to stay in your house? It sounds like China. People are really upset. I’m getting a lot more calls from people locally who are upset. Now they’re getting involved. The thing is we need to do something. It used to be that people controlled the state governments and state governments were the major power behind controlling the federal government. What we’re trying to do is regenerate the power back to the states, and that means the people. In my opinion, the federal government is completely out of control. They’re bringing about powers they weren’t given in the Constitution and they’re justifying them, and the Supreme Court is ruling with them. Our system is broken. We’re trying to get our federal government under control and give the power back to the states and to the people.”

Patricia Tolson
Patricia Tolson, an award-winning national investigative reporter with 20 years of experience, has worked for such news outlets as Yahoo!, U.S. News, and The Tampa Free Press. With The Epoch Times, Patricia’s in-depth investigative coverage of human interest stories, election policies, education, school boards, and parental rights has achieved international exposure. Send her your story ideas: patricia.tolson@epochtimes.us