By John Celock
Kansas lawmakers rejected legislation Wednesday that would have had the state calling on Congress to convene a constitutional convention.
The House Federal and State Affairs Committee voted Wednesday against the Convention of States resolution which would have had the state joining others in pushing for the constitutional convention, which is allowed under Article V of the U.S. Constitution. Supporters have said that it would allow for the states to take steps to exercise oversight over the federal government, while opponents have said that a convention could restrict rights.
“The federal government will not reign in their power,” Rep. Blake Carpenter (R-Derby) said. “They have expanded their power a lot since World War II.”
The resolution in question was being pushed by the Convention of States organization, a national group that is pushing an Article V convention. The group has cited bipartisan support nationally for the measure, with conservatives focused on the need for balanced budget and term limits amendments, and progressives pushing for an amendment to overturn the Citizens United campaign finance measure.
While states have proposed resolutions to Congress for an Article V convention in the past, Congress has said that the two-thirds of the states needed to call the convention had not been reached since the resolutions did not mirror each other. The U.S. Constitution has only been amended through the process of Congress proposing an amendment for ratification by three-quarters of the states. Any amendment proposed by a convention would also require state ratification.
The concerns over what a convention would propose were addressed Wednesday by lawmakers.
“I am glad that our forefathers that got together for that convention. They set that Bill of Rights. They allowed us to call a Convention of States. There is no risk since it goes back to the states with three-quarters of the states needed to pass,” Rep. Kristey Williams (R-Augusta) said. “If there were any amendments that were not agreed on it would fail. This is as American as apple pie. I support the states opportunity to call a convention.”
Carpenter noted that there are not enough heavily Democratic or Republican leaning states that would have a proposed amendment of any extreme pass.
“There is no way Democrats in other states will go along with bazookas in the Constitution,” he said.
Rep. Michael Houser (R-Columbus) expressed opposition to the resolution noting that term limits already exist at the polling booth.
Rep. Eric Smith (R-Burlington) said that the resolution was a way for state governments to be involved in federal affairs.
“This gives us a voice, which is our job as a state legislature,” Smith said.