State leaders gather in Indy to plan constitutional convention

Indiana Statehouse
Indiana Statehouse (WISH Photo/ Marcie Mangan)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — State lawmakers from as many as 33 states gathered at the Indiana Statehouse Thursday to do something that hasn’t been done for more than 200 years.

They are planning for a constitutional convention that would draft amendments to the federal constitution.

There’s an effort to create a balanced budget amendment and it has the support of state lawmakers from as many as 33 states.

It’s called the Mount Vernon Assembly and this is the second meeting. Indiana Senate Leader David Long is one of the organizers.

“Nothing like this gathering has occurred in over two centuries, though certainly the founders of this nation assumed it would have happened long ago,” Long said.

“I think the federal constitution needs one,” said New Hampshire State Rep. Jordan Ulery. “New Hampshire’s operated with one for many years and so have many other states.”

“People that I represent and have represented at the local level and now at the state level,” said Florida State Rep. Neil Combee, “they wouldn’t consider allowing us to do anything but balance our budgets.”

Not everyone is behind it. Indiana House Minority Leader Scott Pelath calls a constitutional convention a “crazy idea.”

“You see some of the Tea Party interests and they think that this is the solution to every complicated problem our nation has,” said Pelath.

Even some Tea Party members showed up to protest. They don’t trust state lawmakers to represent their interests.

Political scientist Andy Downs says a convention is unlikely but delegates are serious about a balanced budget amendment.

“This might cause Congress to do some things and move them forward,” Downs said.

“I think the federal constitution needs one. New Hampshire’s operated with one for many years and so have many other states,” said state Rep. Jordan Ulery of New Hampshire.

“People that I represent and have represented at the local level and now at the state level, they would consider allowing us to do anything but balance our budgets,” said state Rep. Neil Combee of Florida.

A constitutional convention is still years away. Organizers say it could be two years or it could be 10.

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