Senate calls for convention of states

Staff Reports • Updated Feb 7, 2017 at 9:00 AM

The Tennessee Senate approved a resolution Monday calling for a convention of states in Nashville to plan a future Article V Convention.

The convention would be the first formal meeting of the states since 1861.

Senate Joint Resolution 9, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, provides the convention of states would be for the limited purposes of planning for and recommending rules and procedures for an Article V Convention to amend the U.S. Constitution; and recommending to Congress the initial date and location in which they would meet.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell, R-Riceville, Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon.

“It is time for states to step up and solve the problem with almost $20 trillion of national debt that has been amassed in Washington,” Kelsey said. “The Tennessee Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention will create a structure for the Balanced Budget Amendment Convention and will address many of the unanswered questions as to how an amendment convention will function.”

Article V provides that upon the application of two-thirds of the state legislatures, Congress shall call a convention of the states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The resolution adopted by the Judiciary Committee sets the date for a convention of states for July 11, with the Article V Convention following as early as November. 

Presently, 28 of the necessary 34 states have passed the application resolution limited to proposing a balanced budget amendment. The organizational structure for the Tennessee Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention will be virtually the same as the convention for proposing the amendment as each are a convention of the states.

State legislatures will choose a delegation to represent the state at the convention, each state will have one vote and the convention will deliberate and make recommendations. 

“Founding Fathers James Madison and George Mason insisted that states have a method for amending the Constitution because sometime in the future the federal government would grow to the point it would become deaf to states’ needs,” Bell said.

Kelsey said the last president who actually paid off the entire U.S. debt was Andrew Jackson.

“We want Tennessee to be leaders of this effort once again,” he said.

The state House of Representatives would have to pass a concurring resolution for the measure to pass. 

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