Arizona and Wyoming have petitioned Congress to call a convention of states to propose a national balanced budget amendment (BBA) under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, and other states are considering similar resolutions.
Arizona lawmakers approved on March 28 an application for a convention to propose a BBA, in addition to adopting a “Compact for a Balanced Budget,” on March 30. The legislature also passed legislation calling for a “planning convention of the states” scheduled for September 12, 2017, to recommend rules for a later convention called for proposing a constitutional amendment.
The Wyoming Legislature passed House Joint Resolution 2 on February 28, making Wyoming the first state to pass a BBA resolution in 2017.
For Congress to call a convention of the states, 34 states (two-thirds of the 50) must submit matching resolutions, or applications, petitioning for such a convention, as outlined in Article V of the Constitution.
According to Rob Natelson, a senior fellow in constitutional jurisprudence at the Independence Institute and the nation’s leading scholar on the Constitution’s amendment procedure, approximately 27 of the 29 BBA active applications passed thus far match.
South Carolina and Wisconsin are considering BBA resolutions, and Minnesota is scheduled to consider similar legislation, according to the April issue of the Article V Convention Legislative Progress Report, edited and published by attorney David Guldenschuh.
New Mexico rescinded its multiple applications for a convention of states in March 2017, and Delaware passed a rescission resolution in 2016.
The Utah House of Representatives, which has approved a BBA resolution, rejected on March 9 a separate resolution the Senate had approved calling for a convention of states. The rejected resolution did not specify proposal of a BBA as a convention objective.
Convention ‘Within Reach’
Guldenschuh says passage of Article V convention legislation among the states has energized opponents and caused friction among proponents of different convention strategies.
“Rescission efforts being promoted by the liberal activist group Common Cause are causing the Article V groups to defend their flanks as they move forward,” Guldenschuh said. “There has been unrest among the Article V groups this year, which has hurt the collective cause.”
Proponents are likely to succeed despite setbacks, Guldenschuh says.
“In the end, this should be another successful year, moving forward with a [balanced budget] amendment convention well within reach in 2018,” Guldenschuh said.
States vs. Congress
Utah state Sen. Evan Vickers (R-Cedar City), a Senate sponsor of the Article V convention legislation rejected by the House, says state lawmakers are better qualified than Congress to initiate constitutional amendments.
“I am frustrated with Congress and Washington, DC, and therefore I see no reason not to trust a majority of state legislatures to make better decisions and thus propose meaningful amendments to the Constitution,” Vickers said.
Objections a convention of states would lead to the adoption of unwanted amendments in a “runaway convention” are unwarranted, Vickers says.
“I feel comfortable that the checks and balances are in place to protect against any drastic measures taken to rewrite the Constitution or pass amendments not acceptable to our citizens,” said Vickers. “Some senators were opposed to the term-limit concept, so we amended that portion out of the resolution. Even with the language taken out concerning term limits, there were senators who felt this would still be discussed at the convention and were opposed to that.”
Some proposed amendments would probably help restrict the federal government from encroaching on state health care decisions, Vickers says.
“Personally, I don’t see a specific Article V proposal that would help with health care,” Vickers said. “However, a proposal on fiscal restraint and limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government would be tools that certainly could be put to beneficial use in finding a solution to our health care issues.”
Arianna Wilkerson ([email protected]) is a marketing coordinator for The Heartland Institute.
Michael T. Hamilton, “Article V Convention of States Remains Important Under Trump,” Health Care News, The Heartland Institute, February 2017.
Kyle Maichle, “Amendment Allowing States to Repeal Obamacare Passes Convention Simulation,” Health Care News, The Heartland Institute, November 15, 2016.
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