Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

April 28, 2014

BRIAN HOWEY: Mount Vernon Assembly coming to Indiana Statehouse

States could create Article V convention and bypass Congress

In an era of congressional polarization and inability to deal with profound problems, a constitutional alternative is poised to take a second crucial step at the Indiana Statehouse in June.

Senate President Pro Tempore David Long has invited the second session of the Mount Vernon Assembly to convene June 12-13. Three legislators from each of the 50 states will be invited to plan the rules for a third session in December to create a first Article V Constitutional Convention. He cites polarization in Washington and its refusal to address key issues as the motivation behind his push for the unprecedented Article V convention.

“States are the laboratories of democracy,” Long said. “If something gets done properly, it doesn’t come from Washington. It comes from the states.

“What we will be doing in Indianapolis in the second week of June is try to put the structure and rules of a convention,” Long said. “If we do have that, there will be an agreed upon process that the states, possibly through resolution, will be adopting. Here’s how you officially adopt your delegates. Here’s how we run it. In this way, no one could argue that you’ve had a runaway convention.”

The issue that has prompted this proposed convention would most likely be a balanced budget amendment. “There are a number of different ideas out there,” the Fort Wayne Republican said. “Spending and fiscal restraint seem to be the common discussion right now that almost everyone, Republicans and Democrats, can agree on.”

Long and other legislators want to refute the claim such a gathering could result in a “runaway convention” that could careen into other topics. He said he will seek limitations on subjects, with the balanced budget amendment on the front burner. “There will be an agreed-upon process,” Long said. “The Constitution doesn’t tell you how it will be done. The reason for that is the founders believed we would be utilizing this process regularly. If you read their thoughts and how they put together the Constitution of 1787, the discussion and debate was critical. They were all experienced with state conventions themselves.”

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