The groundwork for an Article V Convention of States is being laid. The Arizona Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention began Tuesday in Phoenix to create rules of procedure for a future convention to propose a balanced budget amendment.
Pursuant to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, states can force Congress to call a convention for proposing constitutional amendments if two-thirds (34) of the state legislatures request one. Many see a constitutional requirement as the only means of reining in the excessive government spending in Washington, D.C. — contributing to the now-$20 trillion national debt — and so far, 27 states (all controlled by Republicans) have passed a balanced budget resolution.
“I don’t think people realize the states have the power and authority to use this,” Arizona state Rep. Kelly Townsend — chairwoman of the Arizona delegation and one of the event organizers — told the Arizona Republic. “The states are the closest to the people and we know what we’re doing.”
Potential provisions of a balanced budget amendment being discussed in Phoenix include a two-thirds vote requirement for Congress to raise taxes, and the consent of a majority of state governments before Congress can raise the debt ceiling.
A big part of the planning convention this week for the 75 state delegates (all Republicans) is to institute proper checks and balances and to assuage fears of a “runaway convention” (e.g. debates going off topic, or radical amendments that fundamentally alter the Constitution).
“What this is trying to do is say if there is ever an Article V convention, here are the rules. Here’s how it’s going to work,” Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Mesa, told the Arizona Republic.
The Convention of States Project — a separate group working toward an Article V convention — already has proposed convention rules drafted. Twelve stateshave issued resolutions in line with the Convention of States Project.
Congress has repeatedly demonstrated it will not get government’s profligate spending under control. A convention of states is needed now more than ever for a federal government that is incapable of restraining itself.