Planning underway in Indy for a constitutional convention

June 13th, 2014 at 9:21 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

The last constitutional convention took place in 1787.  Planning for the next one is now underway here in Indianapolis.

It’s because of the federal debt.  There’s an effort to create a balanced budget amendment and it has the support of state lawmakers from as many as 33 states.

They call themselves the Mount Vernon Assembly and they gathered in the Indiana House chamber to establish rules and procedures for a constitutional convention.

Indiana Senate Leader David Long is one of the organizers.  “Nothing like this gathering has occured in over 2 centuries,” he said, “though certainly the founders of this nation assumed it would have happened long ago.”

Not everyone is behind it.  Indiana House Minority Leader Scott Pelath calls a constitutional convention a “crazy idea.”

“You see some of the Tea Party interests,” said Pelath, “and they think that this is the solution to every complicated problem our nation has.”

But even some Tea Party members showed up to protest.  They don’t trust state lawmakers to represent their interests.

Political scientist Andy Downs says a convention is unlikely but delegates are serious about a balanced budget amendment.

“I think the federal constitution needs one,” said state Rep. Jordan Ulery of New Hampshire.  “New Hampshire’s operated with one for many years and so have many other states.”

“People that I represent and have represented at the local level and now at the state level,” said state Rep. Neil Combee of Florida, “they would consider allowing us to do anything but balance our budgets.”

And just talking about it could make a difference says Downs.  “This might cause Congress to do some things,” he said, “and move them forward.”

But if it happens, a constitutional convention is still years away.  Organizers say it could be 2 years.  It could be 10.

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