The first signs of what could be a nationwide effort by conservatives to flight against ratification of the proposed constitutional amendment that would give the District full voting representation in Congress surfaced here yesterday during a hearing by the Pennsylvania legislature.
Two conservative Washington-based organizations sent witnesses here to testify against ratification. Proponents of the measure also expanded their base with the appearance of Paul Hays, chairman of the D.C. Republican Committee, along with Democratic D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy.
After a two-hour hearing, the House committee on federal state relations, by a vote of 13 to 2, gave bi-partisan approval and sent the ratification measure to the floor, where a vote is likely next week. A scheduled vote in the state Senate was postponed yesterday after sponsors were not certain the 26 members needed for passage were present.
William Stanmeyer, a former Georgetown law professor who is now associated with the Lincoln Center for Legal Studies in D.C., told legislators that adoption of the amendment would result in giving District residents overrepresentation in Congress.
After subtracting the number of District residents who are eligible to vote in other states the professor said the remaining population would be ensured to "disproportionate representation."
(Actually, that figure is disputed. Stanmeyer put it at 30 to 40 percent; Fauntroy at closer to 20 percent.)
Another witness, Thomas R. Ascik, a policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, told the committee the found it "alarming that the constitution is suffering in the name of human rights."
Ascik submitted to the committee a 14-page analysis of the amendment that he had prepared for use by opponents during debate in Congress.
The document is also being distributed nationally by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization of about 700 conservative state legislators in all 50 states that recruited Stanmeyer and Ascik for yesterday's appearances.
Hugh Newton, public relations counsel or the Liberty Foundation, said Ascik probably will testify before other legislatures, if asked.
Newton added that he personally is "appalled" that some states, such as New Jersey, which ratified the amendment Sept. 11, acted on the proposal without giving opponents a chance to testify.
The Liberty Foundation was founded six years ago as a nonpartisan public policy research organization, Newton said. One of its originators and major contributors is Adolf Coors of the Coors brewery empire.
Stanmeyer argued that elected representatives from the District would take to Congres "a built-in conflict of interest." He said they would represent "a constituency with an extremely high percentage of individuals dependent upon government either for welfare payments or employment."
The goal of those voters would be "to keep government big and taxes flowing," said Stanmeyer, who ison a a two-year leave of absence from the Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis.
After yesterday's favorable committee action, Fauntroy briefly addressed the 200-member House. He urged them to "patch the crack in the Liberty Bell through which three-quarters of a million people slipped" because they are not represented in Congress.
The next action in Pennsylvania is now scheduled for Monday. Another ratification effort, in Michigan, is also expected to be acted on next week.