Margo Chenowith-Pospisil and Bob Schleppenbach

Margo Chenowith-Pospisil (left), district captain, and Bob Schleppenbach, a volunteer, man a booth for the Convention of States Thursday at the Pierce County Fair.

PIERCE — As the Nebraska Bush Pullers roared to life Thursday night at the Pierce County Fair, two people set up a booth and started handing out pens, pamphlets and pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution.

Between the deafening howls of the engines, they state their mission: "Washington is broken, and we have the solution."

The "we" to which they referred was the nationwide organization Convention of States Action, or COS. They said their solution is found in Article V of the Constitution, which allows state legislatures to form a convention to propose new amendments "when deemed necessary." It gives the power to the individual states to band together and propose something new.

The COS is presently active, with three items on the platform, said district captain Margo Chenowith-Pospisil. They include imposing "fiscal restraints on the federal government," "limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government" and introducing "term limits on Congress and federal officials."

The COS has been around for seven years, but it has at least one chapter in every state. So far, 15 states have passed a resolution calling for the convention on a national scale. According to Article V of the Constitution, two-thirds of the states — presently 34 — have to pass resolutions for the convention to be formed.

"It's a high bar," Chenowith-Pospisil said, "but it's meant to be that way."

She was inspired to join after studying the checks and balances system among the federal branches of government. She believed it to be out of balance and was determined to no longer sit down and watch everything play out.

"We gotta do something," she said. "We can't just sit there and watch TV and wring our hands."

Her concerns focus on religious liberty and free speech, although she encourages people of all beliefs to get involved. She stressed that the COS is bipartisan, with activists on both sides of the political aisle.

"If one of us loses our rights, we all lose our rights," she said.

Echoing her sentiments was Bob Schleppenbach, a volunteer. He talked about how the COS needs people of all ages to operate and function. He said many people, especially senior citizens, shy away from activism because they do not believe it will apply to them or their future. When answering, Schleppenbach tells them to consider how it will affect their children or grandchildren — and then the light bulb goes off.

Nebraska is not one of the states that has passed the resolution, but Chenowith-Pospisil thinks that, due to the state's Unicameral Legislature, it will soon. Until then, she vows to keep making her voice heard.

"Constitutionally, legally and peacefully," she said.

In other news

VALENTINE — The 26-year-old man accused of killing 52-year-old Ruth Wittmuss in August pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges of first-degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony.