Article V of the U.S. Constitution says that a convention of the states can be convened if two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) approve an application for the convention to occur.
By design, that’s a high bar to clear. And the bar gets even higher when it comes to actually passing a constitutional amendment. It takes an affirmative vote from three-fourths (38) of the states to actually amend the constitution. Each state would only get one vote on proposed amendments.
The resolution passed today by the Alabama House strictly limits the purpose of the proposed convention to three areas:
1) imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government through a balanced budget amendment;
2) limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government; and
3) implementing term limits on federal elected officials.
This is the second year HJR112, sponsored by Rep. Ken Johnson (R-Moulton) and cosponsored by 52 additional Republicans, has been approved by the House. Last year the resolution died in the Senate, but Rep. Johnson has high hopes that this year will be the year Alabama officially signs on to the idea of a Article V convention.
“We’re calling for restraints on the federal government,” Johnson told Yellowhammer when the resolution passed last year. “That means an amendment that forces them to balance the budget and stops these overreaching federal mandates. We’re also calling for term limits on federal elected offices.”
Johnson said the states are able to limit the scope of the convention ahead of time, to mitigate the risk of a “runaway convention.”
“Because we’ve never done it, the idea that there could be a ‘runaway convention’ is always brought up as a concern,” Johnson said. “The convention would be limited to a small set of issues. But on top of that, the safeguard is that it only takes 13 states to kill any runaway convention. If there aren’t 13 conservatives states left, we’re in trouble, period. And Washington is a runaway train right now anyway. How much more damage could be done?”
HJR112 would require the legislature to create the rules for determining the appointment and duties of delegates to the convention, as well as constitute a continuing application until at least two-thirds of all State Legislatures have made application for a convention to provide for these purposes, unless the resolution is rescinded by a succeeding legislature.
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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015