State Lawmakers Nationwide Look to Shift Power Away from D.C.
A few select lawmakers in various US states who believe the federal government has amassed too much power have started a movement to amend the Constitution. They call themselves the Assembly of State Legislatures (ASL).
This massive undertaking is designed to devolve power back to the States. Lawmakers, of different political leanings, from twenty-eight states brainstormed suggestions for going about an Article 5 convention in order to propose amendments to the Constitution.
Article 5 provides two ways to change the Constitution. One way is the Congress voting; if Congress chooses not to check its own power then 2/3 of the States can petition Congress for a convention. If that happens Congress is required to call one. Anything proposed at the convention needs to be ratified by 3/4 of the States.
Certain issues the ASL focused on were campaign finance reform, EPA regulations, and a balanced Federal budget amendment. Had this reporter been there I would have suggested adding immigration, foreign wars, military bases, health care, education, etc. The “need to reign in Washington” was the idea, but that is like trying to put a leash on a bear.
Scott Lingamfelter, Republican delegate from Virginia said:
“I want to make sure my grandchildren have a vibrant constitution that protects their freedom.”
Wisconsin Republican Assemblyman Chris Kapenga says:
“We have the jurisdiction to amend the Constitution. History shows that there is this centralisation of power and it does not matter what civilisation, this is a trend you can look back on. There is a centralisation of power that always ends up leading to abuse.”
Democrat Jason Holsman of Missouri and co-president of the ASL cited that thirty-six states have already made requests to Congress, more than the thirty-four state threshold. However, Congress is not exactly tracking that. Congress is not doing their job of counting their calls. States requests for an Article 5 convention differ and Congress has every incentive not to grant those requests.
Since the process for going about an Article 5 convention is not explained in the Constitution, the details are left up to the States. The first meeting of the ASL was in December 2013 in Mt Vernon. They met again this summer in Indianapolis. This most recent meeting last week was in Washington DC. They hope in the months and years to come to outline a possible process for convention. While the ASL is made up of lawmakers the group has no real legislative power. They wish to come up with rules and procedures delegates at an actual convention could adopt. The recent ASL gathering was not widely publicized, only part was aired on CSPAN, attendees urged transparency and inclusiveness.
Republican John Wood of Florida, which has the strongest open records laws in the US, said:
“Why wouldn’t we want every legislator in America to be a member of this organization?”
An Article 5 convention has never happened before in all of US history, mostly because it is difficult to build a consensus. The threat of a convention one hundred years ago forced Congress to push the 17th Amendment, which transferred power to choose senators from the State legislature to the people by popular vote. Ironic since the 17th Amendment took power away from the States and grew the power of the Federal government. The States no longer have representation in Washington DC.
Editor’s Note: The original constitution convention paved the way for our Southern people to be unequally yoked with our neighbors to the north. Any attempt to fix that original mistake that does not include the strategy of secession and complete separation should be considered futile in the long run. However, accepting divorce as necessitous is a process.