Constitutional amendment group to meet in Indiana

Indiana Statehouse (WISH Photo/ Marcie Mangan)
Indiana Statehouse (WISH Photo/ Marcie Mangan)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Delegates from across the country will gather in Indianapolis next month to discuss the process for states to amend the U.S. Constitution without congressional approval.

The June 12-13 gathering of The Mount Vernon Assembly is the second meeting of the group, which has begun shaping the rules and procedures for a Convention of the States.

The Times of Munster reports legislative leaders in all 50 states are expected to send delegates to the Indiana Statehouse. Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said the group won’t propose any amendments this time but will focus instead on creating the structure for a Convention of the States.

“That way, we can go into it with confidence that it will be run properly, it will remain in control of the states and it will not be a runaway convention,” Long said.

A Convention of the States, also known as an Article V convention, has never been used to amend the nation’s primary governing document. Traditionally, two-thirds of Congress must propose an amendment and 38 states must ratify it before it can take effect.

Under the Article V process, two-thirds of state legislatures, or 34 states, must ask Congress to call a Convention of the States for proposing constitutional amendments. If the convention approves an amendment, it can be added to the Constitution without congressional approval so long as it is ratified by three-fourths of the states.

The Article V process has grown in popularity among conservatives unhappy with the way the federal government is being run.

Long said it’s important to take a thoughtful approach before requesting a Convention of the States.

“This is the one group that is moving forward, with state legislators, putting a process in place so whatever ideas ultimately win out and get to a convention, we will have everything ready to go and the process will work effectively,” Long said. “Without this structure, it won’t work.”

A bipartisan group of lawmakers from 33 states has already met once to gauge support for a Convention of the States. Long anticipates a third meeting later this year to finalize the decisions made at the Indianapolis meeting.

He said the first proposed amendment likely will focus on the national debt.

“We need something to change and this is, I think, the only way it’s going to happen — the states are going to have to take charge,” Long said.

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