State legislators representing more than 30 states will meet Thursday and Friday at the Indianapolis capitol building to discuss a future Article V convention of states.
Rep. Chris Kapenga of Wisconsin, who is helping to organize the meeting along with Sen. David Long of Indiana, said that they will be looking to lay the groundwork for a future convention, not discussing specific amendments. However, many of the attendees have spoken openly of their intentions to pursue a balanced budget amendment, Congressional term limits, and limits to the federal bureaucracy.
“The authors of the Constitution included a state-led amendment option as a check on a runaway federal government,” Long said. “The dysfunction we see in Washington, D.C., provides an almost daily reminder of why this option is needed now more than ever.”
Three state legislatures (Alaska, Florida, and Georgia) have passed resolutions that apply for an Article V convention of states that would meet to craft constitutional amendments that would “impose fiscal restraints on the Federal Government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the Federal Government, and limit the terms of office for federal officials and members of Congress.”
Meanwhile, according to The Blaze, 22 states have passed Article V resolutions calling for a balanced budget amendment, although other sources have that number at 23 or 24.
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No actual amendments will be discussed at the Assembly of State Legislatures meeting Thursday and Friday at the Indiana State House, Wisconsin state Rep. Chris Kapenga said, only setting the rules for how an Article Five convention would be handled. Lawmakers from 30 states are taking part.
“As a body we are not touching amendment subject matter and take no stance,” Kapenga, a Republican, told TheBlaze. “We do not take a stance on amendment issues. This body is about process.”
The group of state lawmakers first met in December.
So far, all 27 amendments to the Constitution were passed by Congress and then ratified by three-fourths of the states, but the Constitution also allows for a convention of states to be convened if two-thirds of the states –34 – call for one. If a convention approves an amendment, three-fourths of the states – 38 – must vote to ratify it.
In deciding on the rules, attendees to the meeting could consider such matters as how many delegates each state would have at a convention, who would appoint them and the process for considering a specific amendment.
The group of state lawmakers has no legal authority, but is putting forth a consensus blueprint for rules of the convention of the states, which would be ultimately decided by the convention or by state legislatures.
Kapenga stressed that in addition from steering clear of endorsing specific amendments, the assembly is also avoiding coordination with any political or partisan groups.
“This is strictly currently elected state legislators,” Kapenga said. “There are no meetings, money or involvement with anyone. It must stay politically pure or it takes a political slant.”
He added that along with political groups, Congress has no discretionary power in the process.
“The only political leaning we have is state vs. federal power,” he continued.
The movement for amending the Constitution through a state-led convention gained momentum after conservative talk radio host Mark Levin’s “The Liberty Amendments” became a best-seller in 2013, though is still considered a long shot.
Under Article V of the Constitution, states can call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution if two-thirds (34) of the states pass similar applications. Any amendment that is drafted and proposed must still be ratified by three-fourths (38) of the states to be officially adopted as part of the Constitution.