(WHNT) – For decades, Republican lawmakers have touted a Balanced Budget Amendment as a way to rid the nation of its ever-growing debt.
However, those Congressional Republicans failed time and time again to pass the amendment with the required 2/3 majority vote in both the House and the Senate.
Now, state lawmakers are taking things into their own hands using a little-known, and rarely used power granted them by the Constitution.
It’s called the Article V Constitutional Convention, called by 2/3 of the nation’s states – currently 34 states are needed.
“George Mason put it in there to give states a means of amending the U.S. Constitution outside the control of Congress,” said State Senator Arthur Orr, who is among the lawmakers leading the effort in Alabama.
Currently 33 states, including Alabama, are part of the effort to amend the Constitution to require America to run on a balanced budget.
“But that is a long way off in the future,” said Orr. “What we can do now is prepare ourselves in case a constitutional convention is ever called.”
In preparation for that event lawmakers proposed two bills.
The first details how delegates for the convention would be chosen and the requirements they must meet.
“They do not have to be a member of the legislature to be a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, but they will be chosen by the legislature,” explained Orr.
The second bill puts controls in place, to prevent delegates from going rogue, and voting against the state’s mandate.
“They can be criminally liable, and charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, if they breech the trust of the citizens by voting contrary to the state,” said Orr.
Even if these bills do pass, Orr says there is a long road ahead, now his focus is on laying the groundwork.
“We’re just in the first step, and again it’d be a very, very long journey to see this come to fruition, but if the pressure on Washington builds I would call that a success.”
Thirty-eight states would be needed to ratify the Balanced Budget Amendment if the convention is called.
Despite coming close twice in the 1960s, and again in the 1980s, state legislatures have never successfully called an Article V Constitutional Convention.