The Texas Legislature is considering a resolution calling for a national convention to draft and enact a balanced budget amendment prohibiting the federal government from running budget deficits.
In December, state Rep. Rick Miller (R-Sugar Land) and state Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) proposed House Joint Resolution 34 and Senate Joint Resolution 2 in their respective chambers, calling on Congress to begin an amendments convention.
Miller’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.
Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, after 34 states call for an amendments convention, the gathering, consisting of commissioners selected by state lawmakers, is limited to consideration of amendments requiring the federal government to enact a balanced budget—or whatever other proposal is specified in the call.
Currently, 28 states have passed such balanced budget resolutions, with eight approving the COS resolution.
‘Ahead of the Game’
Miller says 2017 may be the year the amendment convention movement succeeds in Texas.
“What makes it different this year is we’re ahead of the game,” Miller said. “Sen. Birdwell is carrying it in the Senate, and it’s the same resolution. It has to be the same resolution across the country. He and I have been strategizing and working out a game plan. We’re ready to rock and roll.”
Miller says there is plenty of support for the resolution.
“We’re going to push to get it through the House as soon as possible and flip it over to the Senate,” Miller said. “We won’t have any issues in the House getting it passed, but there might be some issues in the Senate. But Sen. Birdwell is working it really well. The lieutenant governor has come out in favor of it, and, of course, our governor wrote a book about it, so we have all of that support.”
Miller says state lawmakers have a responsibility to rein in an out-of-control federal government.
“It comes down to the states to put the federal government in its place,” Miller said. “We are closer to the people, and it’s time for the people to take control. With the federal government being so out of control in so many areas, it’s time to right the ship. They haven’t done their job for us, the people, so it’s time for the states to stand up and be reckoned with, and this is a way the Framers saw it. They saw that if the federal government got out of control, the states had the opportunity to do it.
“It’s time for ‘we the people’ to stand up and take charge,” Miller said.
Promoting Citizen Involvement
Tamara Colbert, a co-director for Convention of States’ operations in Texas, says the U.S. Constitution is designed to increase citizens’ power over the government.
“Our Constitution wasn’t designed to just send leaders to a faraway capital and then not be involved,” Colbert said. “That’s not what our nation was founded on. Self-governance means you are active as a citizen, and you have the right as an American to be involved at every level of the political and policymaking process.”
Colbert says people all over the country and across the political spectrum are ready to take power back from Washington, DC.
“The national mood is ready to put the federal government back into its constitutionally intended spot,” Colbert said. “The Convention of States project has [the support of] Republicans and Democrats from statehouses all over this nation. We are nonpartisan because liberty is for everyone. The Constitution is for everyone.”