(WHNT) - State Senator Arthur Orr is working on some big ideas, including a constitutional amendment to make the federal government work with a balanced budget and an amendment to the Alabama constitution that would institute term limits.
Senator Orr began his Leadership Perspectives interview by telling WHNT News 19's Steve Johnson why the states need to take the lead in amending the U.S. Constitution by using Article Five.
“[Article Five] was put in back during the deliberations on the U.S. Constitution, back during the 1780s, and it was inserted for a means for the states to come together and bypass Congress by having a convention to consider amendments,” said Orr.
“They saw this around the turn of the last century, where U.S. senators were elected by the state legislatures across the country and each state legislature selected our U.S. senators, and it became subject to a lot of bribery and a lot of dirty dealings in the legislatures to get that U.S. senator elected. So the movement started to have an Article Five Convention, and once that pressure built on Washington, you saw the Congress come with its own amendment and they passed it, submitted it out to the states and the states ratified it to allow the direct election from the people to elect senators,” said Orr.
Support for a possible Constitutional Convention is starting to pick up among the states. In fact, Orr says the number of states that want to play ball is more than 30.
“I went with another Alabama state senator to an assembly in Mount Vernon in December, where we convened with 33 other states that attended. And at that meeting we decided and agreed that the most important thing to do first off, is to establish the rules that we conduct, under which we conduct a convention, should a convention would be conducted,” said Sen. Orr.
Orr said that this was an important step to keep smaller states from being overshadowed by states with large populations, like California. “We would say no, it needs to be one state, one vote, just like it was in the 1780s," said Sen. Orr.
Steve Johnson asks: "So how many states at this point, do you think legitimately have a chance of having their states be part of this?
The topic that keeps coming up at these gatherings of state representatives? Having a balanced budget.
“We don't have a balanced budget in Washington and we run these huge budget deficits year in and year out. That's a real concern about how are we ever going to pay for this. As you know, $17 trillion in unfunded budget debt, but also liabilities getting up over $80 trillion when you talk about obligations that the federal government has put upon itself, but has no way to pay for. So that's something that's creating a movement across the state to look at the idea of coming together for a convention to consider amendments to the U.S. Constitution," said Sen. Orr.
Sen. Orr said a Constitutional Convention could be held in three to five years, but getting the rules prepared would take most of that time. He said the 2015-2016 year would be spent getting the carious states to sign resolutions calling for an Article Five Convention to be held.
As to who would be sent to represent Alabama, Sen. Orr said there are currently two bills in the Alabama legislature that would determine how delegates would be selected.