Convention of States For The Purpose of Proposing Amendments

Tomorrow (Tuesday 9/20) I head off to Washington, DC to join the Georgia Chamber of Commerce for their “DC Fly-in.” We’ll be meeting with Georgia’s Congressional Delegation to discuss things going in in Washington and how they impact Georgia. Wednesday, myself, Rep. Timothy Barr, and Rep. Bruce Williamson will drive from Washington down to Williamsburg, VA to take part in a simulated convention of States. The simulated convention of States is sponsored by the Convention of States project, which is asking State Legislatures to call for an Article V convention of States for the purpose of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Legislators from all fifty States have been invited to participate in this simulation.

You can watch a live stream of the simulation this Thursday and Friday. Click here to learn more and sign up to view the live stream.

The purpose of the simulation is to demonstrate what an Article V convention of States for the purpose of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution would look like, and how it would function. Article V refers to the section of the U.S. Constitution which describes how amendments may be proposed. It says:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

The key phrase for our purposes here is “on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments.” In other words, amendments to the constitution may be proposed by States, provided they get two-thirds of the States to call for a convention to propose amendments.

In 2014, Georgia renewed it’s call for a convention to propose a balanced budget constitutional amendment, and was the first State in the nation to pass the Convention of States resolution which seeks to “impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.” I was pleased to shepherd this resolution through the House for final adoption.

Since we were the first State in the country to adopt the Convention of States resolution, Georgia will play a unique roll in this simulation. Reps. Barr, Williamson, and myself will preside over the election of a convention chairman as well as the election of committee chairs which will debate potential amendments.

I feel this is an important activity to be involved in for several reasons:

– With the dysfunction in Washington, restraining the federal government seems unlikely to happen any time soon. The outcome of the 2016 Presidential election seems unlikely to heal the political divide. We need an “out of the box idea” to break the political gridlock we face and unite the American people around positive reform.
– Electing more people of goodwill won’t change our current course. How many times have we sent good people to Washington, who work night and day to try to do the right things, only to see their efforts come to naught? The federal government is an out of control behemoth and it’s time to try a different solution. An Article V convention of States is that solution.
– The debate over proposed amendments will force our political discussion toward the center rather than the political extremes. There aren’t enough Republicans in American to pass a string of amendments Republicans would favor without the cooperation of Democrats. There aren’t enough Democrats in American to pass a string of amendments Democrats would favor without the cooperation of Republicans. We will, of necessity, have to talk about issues that have support across the political spectrum. Won’t this be better than what we have now, where each side shouts at the other and refuses to listen?
– Even if a convention takes place, Congress may act on their own to the consensus building proposals that come from the effort to have a convention. This is what happened in the 1980’s when the balanced budget amendment effort came close to reaching the two-thirds requirement to call for an Article V convention. Congress acted and attempted to pass a balanced budget amendment. The amendment failed by a few votes but the political pressure to balance the budget remained and less than a decade later, Democrats and Republicans working together, balanced the federal budget.

I will continue the fight to return the federal government to it’s constitutionally limited role. The more the federal government is restrained, the more freedom we as individuals have. I hope you will join me in this effort.