Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Ohio lawmakers call for national confab on debt, other issues

Legislators concerned about debt, other issues
Published: 3/13/17 @ 12:05

By Marc Kovac


Lawmakers in the Ohio House and Senate are again pursuing companion resolutions calling for a national constitutional convention to address debt and other issues.

Reps. Christina Hagan, R-Alliance, and Bill Patmon, D-Cleveland, and Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, spoke about the measures during a recent event at the Statehouse and as part of testimony in separate legislative committees.

Hagan and Patmon offered a similar joint resolution last session, and Huffman was primary sponsor of a comparable House resolution when he served in that chamber.

This session’s HJR 2 and SJR 1 would formalize state lawmakers’ call for Congress to have a convention of states, as allowed under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

Such a gathering is needed, Hagan told the Ohio House’s Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee, to allow needed amendments to the nation’s governing document.

“Federal laws now impede upon nearly every aspect of our lives,” Hagan said. “Very personal aspects such as but not limited to: what kind of light bulbs we can buy, farming practices, school curriculum, school lunches and most recently and egregiously our individual freedoms and rights to choose our own health care and insurance policies.”

Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, two-thirds of state legislatures can adopt resolutions to force Congress to call a convention to consider amendments. Delegations would then meet to hash out amendments, which would require ratification by three-fourths of the country (38 states) to take effect.

“Really, a convention of the states is the only way to control the federal government,” Huffman said. “Collectively, there’s not the will or the incentive really [for Congress to act on its own]. ... The states have to step up and execute on their constitutional prerogative to control the federal government.”

Ohio adopted its Article V amendment several years ago, with wording that attempted to focus discussion on a balanced budget amendment. Gov. John Kasich supported the effort and traveled around the country, in advance of his unsuccessful bid for the presidency, urging other states to adopt similar resolutions.

HJR 2 and SJR 1 expand on the earlier resolution, allowing term limits for federal officials, including judges, as well as fiscal restraints to be discussed.

At least one Republican on the House’s Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee, however, voiced concerns about the possibility of a “runaway convention,” with the resulting changes outside of the scope of what is proposed in the House and Senate resolutions.

Rep. John Becker, a Republican from the Cincinnati area, questioned whether the process ultimately would make a difference or if it would do more harm than good.

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