Virginia is one of the latest states involved in a new push for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution in a bid to rein in the federal government — part of a nascent campaign on an issue states have been grappling with since at least the 18th century.
National and state GOP leaders are supportive of the idea, saying that a convention of the states is needed to stop an out-of-control federal government, but some conservatives say such a gathering could end up as a free-for-all and risk radically altering the founding document.
Resolutions calling for a convention to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and impose term limits on members of Congress recently advanced out of committees in Virginia’s House and Senate, along with separate resolutions calling specifically for a balanced budget amendment.
Michael Farris, a former GOP nominee for Virginia lieutenant governor, is helping spearhead the push for a convention of the states, a project of the group Citizens for Self-Governance.
The movement is nothing new, but Mr. Farris said he got the idea for a renewed effort after the 2012 election. He said it made sense legally and politically to start fresh rather than try to build on prior disparate efforts that have seen mixed results.
At least 34 states, or two-thirds, must pass applications for a convention and ultimately would need a sign-off from Congress….
Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows Congress to propose amendments, but it states that “on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, [Congress] shall call a convention for proposing amendments.”
Rather than calling for a specific amendment, this particular movement is calling for a convention of the states to reduce the power and scope of the federal government. The language in Virginia’s proposals specifically call for a convention to pass amendments “that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”
The Republican-controlled House of Delegates voted down a similar resolution during last year’s session, and the fate of this year’s effort is still very much up in the air.
Three states — Alaska, Georgia and Florida — passed the group’s convention of states application last year, and lawmakers in a dozen states are considering them this year….
By David Sherfinski – The Washington Times –