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Georgia lawmakers seek constitutional convention for federal budget

Thursday, March 7, 2013 12:13 PM
Last updated Friday, March 8, 2013 12:12 AM
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ATLANTA — The Georgia Senate voted Thursday to petition Congress for a constitutional convention to consider requiring the federal government stick to balanced budgets.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution requires Congress to hold a convention if 34 states pass resolutions calling for one.

Thursday’s vote of 39-13 was largely along party lines on Senate Resolution 267 by Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens.

“I think it’s becoming more and more obvious why your party is the minority party,” he said to Democratic Leader Steven Henson, of Tucker.

Henson pointed out that Democrats had just voted for a separate resolution that urged Congress to pass a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which passed unanimously.

Democrats worry that a convention could decide to change other parts of the Constitution besides just the financial aspects.

Cowsert reminded Henson that Georgia passed a resolution calling for a convention in 1976 when Democrats controlled the state.

“Do you think we could get back to the (President Bill) Clinton days when we had a balanced budget?” Henson shot back.

Cowsert is also sponsoring Senate Bill 206 which would instruct Georgia’s delegation to a constitutional convention to limit activity to budget concerns. It passed 45-8 an hour late.

Sen. Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, said the issue is critical to the nation’s security, comparing it to a family earning $21,000 annually with $102,000 in credit card debt.

“How long do you think the bank would put up with that? They’d be calling your note immediately. The problem is the Chinese are holding our note,” he said.

Now the resolution and the delegate-instruction bill move to the Georgia House of Representatives for consideration.

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Dixieman 03/07/13 - 04:06 pm

You know what would make this story really meaningful? A simple sentence saying how many other states have called for a convention so we would know if Georgia's call is the first or there is just one more to go. Put this resolution in context - otherwise it is meaningless trivia. It's called pick up the phone or search the Internet and do some reporting, folks.

Rob Natelson
Rob Natelson 03/07/13 - 05:20 pm
Re: convention

Dixieman: About 15 states have live applications for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment. The precise number depends on the legal rules you believe apply.

Mr. Jones: It is incorrect and misleading to refer to a convention for proposing amendments (the Constitution's name for it) as a "constitutional convention." The Constitution provides for three different kinds of convention and none is a constitutional convention.
In a nutshell, a constitutional convention is an assembly held outside existing law to write a new governing document. A convention for proposing amendments, like a state ratifying convention, is an assembly held under the rules of the constitution for the limited purpose of proposing one or more amendments.

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