Alabama Senators Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) have for the past several months been engaged in a coordinated process with legislators from around the U.S. to move the country toward at state-led Constitutional Convention for the first time in history.
In short, a convention of the states is widely viewed as a last-ditch effort to push back against an overreaching federal government. Potential amendments being kicked around include term limits on federal lawmakers and caps on taxation and spending.
Roughly 100 state legislators from 32 states assembled at Mt. Vernon, Virginia last December to begin laying out ground rules that would be followed should such a convention ever be convened.
That process continued late last week when the Assembly of State Legislatures met again at the Indiana State Capitol in Indianapolis.
Mount Vernon assembly to convene in minutes in Indianapolis. Photo of Indiana Capitol – site of mtg. pic.twitter.com/7QjTU6G2m2
— Senator Arthur Orr (@SenatorAOrr) June 12, 2014
The Assembly divided themselves into three committees: Judicial, Rules and Procedures, and Communications and Planning.
Sen. Orr was selected to serve on the Judicial Committee, which discussed how many states are currently calling for a convention, what type of notification is required for a call to be received by Congress, and other matters relating to the legal process of calling for a convention.
Sen. Pittman was selected to the Committee on Rules and Procedures. Among other things, Pittman’s committee affirmed the Assembly’s commitment to one state, one vote, meaning voting at any potential future conventions would not be based on each state’s population. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the Constitution.
No issues were formally discussed during the meeting. The group worked instead on the process, procedures and planning.
The Assembly’s focus on a “strict framework” stems from the fact that Article V of the U.S. Constitution leaves some ambiguity in the process of calling for a convention of the states. That has led to some concerns that a convention would be an unruly affair.
Sen. Pittman sought to ease those concerns after last December’s meeting, noting that several checks were being put in place to make a “runaway” convention impossible.
“We’re just meeting to put some rules and procedures in place, but this would be very structured,” he said. “The only way I’d support it is if it was a specific issue convention.”
Pittman reaffirmed his commitment to that process after last week’s meeting.
“Limiting the Federal Government is not going to happen inside the political culture and process of Washington, D.C.,” he told Yellowhammer. “It will require the States utilizing the Article V amendment process to reign in the excesses of the Federal authority. The first step is to draft and approve rules under which an Amendment Convention could safely take place. During this past week’s meeting in Indianapolis, I served on the Rules and Procedures Committee. We adopted the historical and fundamental rule of each state delegation having one vote. Now we can move forward with the additional rules and procedures necessary for a limited Article V Amendment Convention.”
Preparing for day 2 in Indiana House chamber to discuss Art 5 process related issues. pic.twitter.com/WG17ylbiua
— Senator Arthur Orr (@SenatorAOrr) June 13, 2014
Sen. Orr said he believes it is a positive step that legislators from all over the country have come together to start discussing an Article V convention.
“The meeting was but one more small step in what will be a very, very long process,” he said. “But one of the reasons, I believe, states have never come close to an Article V convening is that the state legislators from among the states rarely talk to one another and never have the ability to establish relationships of mutual trust. This process is changing the status quo.”
What do you think about the the potential for a Convention of the States? Do you think it’s a good idea? Let us know in the comment section below, or by tweeting @YHPolitics.
Check out more of Yellowhammer coverage of the Assembly of State Legislatures:
1. Alabama senators discuss potential constitutional convention at Mt. Vernon Assembly
2. Ala. Senators propose bills laying out guidelines for Convention of States
3. Alabama House passes resolution calling for Convention of the States
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