NASHVILLE – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Representative Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro) have filed concurring legislation calling for a convention of states in Nashville for the purpose of adopting a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Senate Joint Resolution 9 and House Joint Resolution 24 provide that the convention of states would be for the limited purposes of 1) planning for, and recommending rules and procedures for an Article V Convention to amend the U.S. Constitution and 2) recommending to Congress the initial date and location in which they would meet.
Article V provides that upon the application of two-thirds of the state legislatures, Congress shall call a convention of the states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
“It is necessary for the states to plan ahead of time for the convention because there has never been a convention to propose an amendment to the Constitution,” remarked Senator Kelsey. “The Tennessee Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention will create a structure for the Balanced Budget Amendment Convention and will address many of the unanswered questions as to how an amendment convention will function.”
The legislation sets the date for convention of states for July 11, 2017, with the Article V Convention following as early as November. This convention would be the first formal meeting of the states since 1861.
Presently, 28 of the necessary 34 states have passed the application resolution limited to proposing a balanced budget amendment (BBA).
“It is quite possible the 34-state threshold can be achieved by mid-April as the resolution to call the Balanced Budget Amendment Convention has been filed in nine state legislatures favorable to passage,” added Representative Powers. “This will trigger Congressional action to call a convention limited to proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment.”
The organizational structure for the Tennessee BBA Planning Convention will be virtually the same as the convention for proposing the balanced budget amendment as each are a convention of the states. State legislatures will choose a delegation to represent the state at the convention, each state will have one vote, and the convention will deliberate and make recommendations.
“Over the years, some people have feared that a convention for proposing amendments could get out of control and become a run-a-way convention,” explained Representative Powers. “This planning convention will show that that is not the case.”
“More than 30 conventions have been held over the years and the rules and procedures for a convention are well documented,” stated Senator Kelsey. “We will incorporate the lessons learned from previous conventions into the rules for the Balanced Budget Amendment Convention.”
As part of the Tennessee BBA Planning Convention, states interested in hosting the BBA Amendment Convention will have the opportunity to present to the Planning Convention the advantages of their state being host. If the Planning Convention makes a recommendation to Congress on the time, date, and place, then Congress will have to consider the will of the states in making their determination.