As proof that the United States Constitution is a living, breathing document, legislators from all fifty states came together in September in Williamsburg, Virginia; to simulate a Convention of States to discuss and promote Article V. Sponsored by the Citizens for Self-Governance, the Article V movement is growing as a result of Americans challenging the over-reach of the Federal Government that many believe has crossed its constitutional bounds. Representative Rick Miller attended as a commissioner representing Texas. Forty-eight states sent legislators to act as commissioners in performing a test run of an actual Article V Convention.
The convention’s purpose is to try to bring government back to the original vision that the framers of the Constitution intended. Specifically, states come together in a national forum to discuss the idea of ratifying amendments to the Constitution that return power to the states. Under the law, 34 states must call for a Constitutional Convention before it may occur. Any proposals made must be approved by at least 38 states before changes could be made.
Using draft convention rules crafted by the world’s leading Article V scholar, Robert Natelson, and Constitutional expert, Michael Farris, state delegations demonstrated to the nation that the process designed by our Founders is ready to be deployed as the ultimate “check” on the Federal Government. At this historic event, state delegations performed a simulation of an Article V Convention called to consider amendment proposals that “impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and set term limits for its officials and for members of Congress.”
The convention encouraged citizen participation by asking people to participate in the Convention of States poll on which amendments were discussed during the convention that began on Sept 21st. The top three amendment priorities polled by Convention of States Project supporters included; 1) term limits on federal officials, 2) a balanced-budget amendment, and 3) limiting executive orders and burdensome regulations.
Many Texans are on board; there are currently 97,000 activists in Texas, including Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. Governor Abbott has long been an advocate for how states must use the powers granted to them to amend the constitution, even writing a book on the issue. Earlier this year, he was among those encouraging the Republican Party of Texas to include a call for an Article V convention in the party platform.
The Texas House of Representatives tried to tackle the issue during the last session by approving a plan to let Texas participate in a convention of states, but the measure never made it out of a Senate committee. It is expected to come up again in the next legislative session, which begins January 10, 2017.
“The overreach of the Federal Government is greatly impacting the state of Texas. The sole purpose of this convention is to propose amendments to the Constitution. Now is the time to act and I look forward to participating in this process,” said Miller. “I have been assigned to the Fiscal Restraints Committee at the simulated Convention of States and look forward to learning more about the Article V convention process and talking about amendments.” Miller hopes the things he learned at the convention will be put into practice to help restore a balance of power between the states and the federal government.
Officials with the Convention of States Project are traveling around the country, holding meetings and town halls to encourage voters across the country to support this idea. Since 2016 is a presidential election year, the convention comes at a time when voters are more aware of the political process and changes that may make our system of government more fair.