Senate Concurrent Resolution 596, if passed, would make Mississippi the 14th state legislature to pass a resolution asking for an Article V Convention of the States.
Article V gives state legislatures the power to call a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. It takes 34 states to call the convention and 38 to ratify any proposed amendment.
Lt. Col. Allen West (ret.) paid a visit to the state capitol as part of the conservative grassroots group Convention of States Action last week to encourage legislators to approve the resolution.
“The brilliance and prescience of our founding fathers, they knew if they didn’t have those righteous men and women serving in the federal government that the balance would get out of skew,” West said. “They made sure that those powers that aren’t enumerated to the federal government are retained by the states and by the people. That’s why they put Article V in there.”
The amendments brought in this convention would place fiscal restraints on Congress and mandate term limits for both representatives and senators. Any amendments passed in such a convention would require at least approval of two thirds of the nation’s state legislatures to become law.
The nation has more than $22 trillion in debt and another $122 trillion in unfunded liabilities for Medicaid and other entitlements. Mark Meckler, president of Convention of States Action, says that a constitutional amendment that forces fiscal responsibility on the federal government is needed to address this issue.
“Nobody’s even talking about debt and deficits and that is eventually going to crush our country,” said Mark Meckler. “We can impose a balanced budget amendment on the federal government and force them to live like your state and other states that live within their means.
He also said that the federal government needs to utilize generally-accepted accounting practices.
“I call it the unicorn and rainbow system. It is fantasy and you’d go to jail if you accounted that way,” Meckler said. “We could put in tax caps, spending caps, all kinds of things you can do to rein them in.”
Meckler said that criticism of a possible runaway convention was unfounded since only those specific amendments that would limit the power of the federal government would be addressed.
The states that have approved similar Article V resolutions include: Georgia, Florida, Alaska, Alabama, Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, North Dakota, Arizona and Arkansas.
Mississippi lawmakers have tried to pass a similar resolution in previous years.
A similar resolution passed the House 76-42 last year and it died in the Senate without making it out of committee.
Three resolutions that would have called for an Article V convention died in the 2017 session and three more perished in the 2016 session as well.