It increasingly looks like a “convention for proposing amendments” is really going to happen. The last 18 months have witnessed a flood of new state legislative applications for such a convention.
New Hampshire re-booted the process in 2012 with an application for a convention limited to considering a balanced budget amendment.
Late last year, the Ohio legislature passed a similar application by strong bipartisan majorities. The Tennessee legislature soon followed, by an overwhelming vote. Next came Michigan and Georgia. Florida then cured a defective 2010 application. The most recent action was in Louisiana, where the vote was not only bipartisan, but unanimous.
The balanced budget advocates now claim 24 of the 34 states necessary to force a convention, although my reading of the applications and the law puts the figure at 21. Either way, it is an extraordinary development.
In addition, four states have passed “faithful delegate acts” providing for discipline of convention commissioners, most recently Florida. (I’ll review the Florida law next week.)
There’s more: This year three states adopted the broader Convention of States application that permits the convention to consider amendments (but only 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.” Those states are Florida, Georgia, and Alaska.
In addition, the Vermont legislature adopted the only “progressive” application—a proposal to restrict the scope of First Amendment freedoms. No other states have followed suit, and there is little chance that many will. Whatever dissatisfaction there may be with “money in politics,” most people recognize that far greater problems are federal overreach and looming federal bankruptcy.