With a 76-42 vote, the House passed a resolution that calls for a convention of the states to pass amendments to the constitution that limit the power of the federal government.
Article V of the constitution states the document can be altered if Congress agrees with a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate, or if two-thirds of the country’s state legislatures call for a convention to put forth amendments.
Representative Dan Eubanks, R-Walls, presented the latter option Thursday. House Concurrent Resolution 56 calls for a convention to address the federal government’s “crushing national debt” created through “improper and imprudent spending.”
“If we love our country and we want to ensure that it continues to be the great nation that it is, as well as ensure the financial safety, security and future of our children and our grandchildren, then it is up to you and I to do something about it,” Eubanks said. “Because Washington, whether under a Republican or Democrat leadership, has proven itself unwilling or incapable of action.”
The resolution cites it will join a handful of other states which have called for a convention for the same reason since 2014 — Georgia, Florida, Alaska, Alabama, Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Each of those states filed similar resolutions calling for amendments to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government and limit its power and jurisdiction, as well as limit terms of office for federal officials and members of Congress.
Mississippi’s resolution uses similar language used by the Tea Party-led Convention of the States Project, which is advocating for a convention for the reasons listed above. Twelve states — Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri, Alaska and Tennessee — are each listed as states that passed Convention of the States resolutions.
If 34 states call for a convention, each would then send delegates to represent their respective homes and propose amendments. Those amendments would require ratification from at least three fourths (38) states to take effect.
The Mississippi Legislature has filed similar resolutions in years past — the conservative, Florida-based Balanced Budget Amendment Taskforce lists the state as one of 28 that have filed resolutions to propose a balanced budget amendment.
Mississippi’s 2018 resolution says delegates for convention cannot offer amendments “on any other topic whatsoever,” but Democrats raised skepticism at that prospect. Many warned of repercussions, arguing that a convention could lead to a “runaway train” resulting in changes that hurt the state.
Rep. John Hines, D-Greenville, told Eubanks, “This is a bad resolution.” Rep. Bryant Clark, D-Pickens, said he understood the resolution’s purpose and was “not necessarily against it,” but the convention may open the door for more changes than intended.
“You said you’re trying to prevent runaway spending, but you might be opening Pandora’s Box at this particular time in our nation,” Clark said. “Don’t you think this is something that should wait until things are a little bit more simple?”
Eubanks disagreed, responding “the time for fire insurance is not when your house is on fire.”
Rep. Tommy Reynolds, D-Charleston, warned, “We don’t need to play with the best constitution in the world.”
The Senate also needs to pass the House resolution for it to take effect.