Nebraska Lawmaker Tries Again for Amendments Convention Resolution

Published November 12, 2016

A Nebraska lawmaker is planning to reintroduce a resolution calling for a national amendments convention to draft and enact a balanced budget amendment prohibiting the federal government from spending more money than it takes from taxpayers.

State Sen. Laura Ebke (L-Crete) says she will file a resolution in January that, if passed, would call for Congress to enact the Article V convention process.

Ebke filed a similar resolution in 2016, Legislative Resolution 35, but lawmakers on the Nebraska Senate’s Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee voted to table the resolution indefinitely.

Ebke’s resolution is based on model legislation proposed by Convention of States (COS), a project of Citizens for Self-Governance, a nonprofit organization advocating restoration of state and local authority.

After 34 states call for an amendments convention, the gathering, consisting of commissioners selected by state lawmakers, would be limited to consideration of amendments requiring the federal government to enact a balanced budget.

Currently, 28 states have passed such resolutions, with eight passing the COS resolution.

Structural Problems

Ebke says reckless spending has become rooted in the federal government’s structure.

“I think the problems we have—national debt and lack of fiscal control, abuse of federal powers, lifetime members of Congress, etc.—have gotten to the point where they have become part of the structure of our system,” Ebke said. “Without changing definitions or reaffirming limitations within an amendment, it’s tough to see how we turn back to a strict constructionist interpretation of powers in the Constitution.”

Ebke says her resolution calls for reining in reckless federal spending.

“The resolution calls for amendments to deal with ‘fiscal restraints,'” Ebke said. “That could certainly be a balanced budget amendment or it could come in some other form, such as caps on spending growth, a supermajority required to pass an unbalanced budget, etc.”

‘The Federal Government Is Broken’

Dave Schneider, a regional director with Convention of States Action, a nonprofit organization backing the COS movement, says the federal government’s problems are obvious to everyone.

“Regardless of political party affiliation, one need not look hard at the situation to come to the conclusion the federal government is broken,” Schneider said. “There has been a big swing to a stronger, more centralized federal government over the last several decades, in which Washington, DC has started to dwarf the original design for the limited product the states intended it to be when they created it.

“I think there’s a general sense that there’s something that’s not right with our government and that the balance between state and national power is off,” Schneider said.