Delegates aiming at December finish for rules

2014-06-13T14:30:00Z 2014-06-13T18:21:43Z Delegates aiming at December finish for rulesDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
June 13, 2014 2:30 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | The Assembly of State Legislatures concluded its work at the Indiana Statehouse on Friday, having tasted the difficulty of getting different states to agree on even minor matters, but still optimistic about the prospects for a future Convention of the States.

"We had some of the fits and starts that you have in a democracy," said Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, an organizer of the meeting. "(But) we're off and running successfully, and I'm personally very excited and very gratified by the turnout we had."

The 94 delegates from 29 states spent the morning polishing a resolution officially changing the group's name from the Mount Vernon Assembly and urging other states, especially states with Democratic legislatures, to join the mostly Republican members of The Assembly of State Legislatures at its planned December session.

Questions over whether delegates to the December meeting should be appointed by each state's legislative leaders, limited to state legislators and required to be bipartisan produced passionate, hourslong debates that ended with state-by-state roll call votes.

Long said that's the only way it can be done because unlike the Indiana Legislature, where chamber leaders often control the process, the assembly includes leaders from many states, each with their own opinions and ideas.

"There's no question that it will take time and it will be a difficult process; it was that way in 1787," Long said, referring to the year the U.S. Constitution was written.

The assembly agreed the committees that first met Thursday to start hammering out procedural details leading to a Convention of the States will continue meeting electronically through the summer and fall, with a goal of having a convention plan prepared for a final vote in December.

"We've got a lot of work to do," said state Rep. Chris Kapenga, a Wisconsin Republican. "It's our responsibility to complete the framework we began at Mount Vernon and built on this week — because if we don't, who will?

Article V of the U.S. Constitution requires Congress call a Convention of the States for proposing constitutional amendments if 34 states request one. Any amendments endorsed by the convention and ratified by 38 states become part of the Constitution without additional congressional approval.

However, because an Article V convention never has been called, there are no clear understandings of what it could and could not do.

The Assembly of State Legislatures hopes the rules and procedures it devises will be adopted by a future Convention of the States that then would immediately get to work drafting constitutional amendments.

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