INDIANAPOLIS (June 12-13, 2014) –
Georgia State Representative Andy Welch along with Representatives Bruce Williamson, Buzz Brockway, Tim Barr, and Paulette Braddock as well as Senator Bill Cowsert from Georgia joined a bi-partisan group of over 100 state legislators representing 33 states at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis this past June 12 and 13. The Assembly of State Legislatures (a.k.a the “Mount Vernon Assembly”) gathered to continue work toward a recommendatory set rules and procedures for a future state-led convention for proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution as authorized by Article V of the Constitution. This Indianapolis meeting is a continuation of our efforts that began in on December 7, 2013 at George Washington’s historic Mount Vernon estate in Virginia.
The Assembly did not consider any specific constitutional amendments. Rather, its focus is on building the framework needed to hold a potential amendment convention in the future, should one be called by the states under Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The meeting was open to the public and was streamed live.
The Executive Committee assigned Representatives Welch and Braddock to serve on the Judiciary Committee. After a long afternoon of discussion and debate regarding the process for a state-initiated application for a convention and the manner of the Congressional call for such a convention, the committee recommended the formation of two subcommittees. The Applications Subcommittee will review and determine the validity and effect of all existing applications filed by the States with Congress calling for an Article V convention. The Call Subcommittee will analysis the process, form and manner of Congress’s duty to call a convention of the states for the purpose proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to recommend Rep. Andy Welch for chair of the Applications Subcommittee. Welch accepted the nomination but only after requesting and receiving the blessing of the Committee to add Senator Marv Hagedorn from Idaho as a co-Chair. Welch mused that “Peaches and Potatoes can make a good combination.” The Application Subcommittee anticipates completing its work in about 3 months, which will help inform the Assembly at its next meeting in December of this year.
Representatives Williamson and Brockway, assigned to the Planning, Communications and Finance Committee, worked with the committee to outline the structure of the Assembly and initiated discussions regarding the next meeting location in December and funding. Rep. Williamson proposed holding the next meeting in Atlanta. Serving on the Rules and Procedures Committee, Rep. Barr and Sen. Cowsert participated in debate regarding the particular rules and procedures to be recommended to govern a future convention of the states.
In the closing session, Welch and Williamson engaged in amendments and debate regarding the language of a resolution approved unanimously by the body. In short, the resolution requests that each state send a bi-partisan delegation of at least 3 currently elected legislators to the next gathering of the Assembly in December.
When asked about the import of the Assembly, Welch stated: “The fact that such a large and diversified group of state delegates has now met twice, with more meetings to come, regarding a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution is indicative that Congress has failed to address the legitimate redresses of citizens and states across this nation. When Congress falls deaf to the people, the drafters of our Constitution authorized the States to act by proposing amendments at a convention of the states. The Assembly of State Legislatures is one of many groups calling on the States to listen to the American people and lead. I am honored and excited to be a part of this movement.”Read More
April 12, 2014 Governor Deal signed HB 794, the Compact for a Balanced Budget Paulette Rakestraw Braddock and I sponsored in the State House and Hunter Hill carried for us in the State Senate. As the first State to enact the Compact, Georgia will serve as the Chair at the Constitutional Convention under the Compact. This a tightly drawn law. It limits all delegates appointed by each state to the Compact to adopting only the amendment language contained in the Compact. You can read exactly what is being proposed as the balanced budget amendment on page 3 of the Compact. The amendment is exceptionally well-drafted: forcing Congress to adopted balanced budgets, establishing a debt limit, forcing the President to prioritize spending if spending comes within 98% of the debt ceiling, requiring a 2/3 majority for Congress to raise any existing taxes so that cutting spending, eliminating tax exemptions, or shifting to a consumption-based tax like the Fair Tax are the preferred approaches over raising taxes in order to achieve a debt-free future for generations of Americans to come. This was a historic moment in Georgia’s and hopefully our Nation’s history. I would be remiss if I did not extend a special thank you to Julianne Thompson for her testimony during hearings and grassroots leadership, to Nick Dranias of Goldwater Institute for his legal advice and brilliance in constructing the Compact, and Chip Napolitano of the Compact for America for his passion and drive for fiscal liberty.Read More