INDIANAPOLIS | Indiana will not be leading the call for a limited constitutional convention intended to re-balance the relationship between the federal government and the states.
The Republican-controlled House failed to act prior to a deadline this week on a resolution previously approved by the Republican-controlled Senate asking Congress to hold a constitutional convention for the purpose of recommending changes to the nation's primary governing document.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution requires Congress call a constitutional convention when two-thirds of state legislatures request one. Senate Joint Resolution 18 would have formalized Indiana's request.
The resolution, which cleared the Senate 32-18, did not advance out of the House Judiciary Committee and is now dead for the year.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Thursday that was "by design" and with the consent of Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, the sponsor of the resolution.
"Our team was very comfortable putting in place what would happen if a constitutional convention was called, but perhaps we're not prepared to be the first state in the nation to call for one," Bosma said.
Indeed, Senate Bills 224 and 225, which detail how delegates to an Article V convention would be selected and their duties, were approved by the House on Monday and the Senate is expected to vote next week to send them to the governor.
Bosma said for now he's looking at measures short of a constitutional convention to limit the power of a federal government he described as "out of control."
"My first choice would be to elect folks that are ready to rein in the federal government and I think we've done a fairly good job of that here in Indiana," Bosma said. "It has not been followed by the rest of the nation, and we obviously don't have a president that's prepared to rein in the federal government."
He said a constitutional convention is "still an opportunity and an avenue for the future."
House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, described Long's call for a constitutional convention as "a silly idea from a very smart man."
"I don't think anybody takes that seriously," Pelath said.
Long believes a constitutional convention is needed to restore the independence of the states in their relationship with the federal government.
"It's getting to the point where there's just one government, that's the federal government, and we're implementing their will," Long said. "Because they have the purse strings they can literally blackmail the states into doing what they want."
"State's rights get obliterated after a while."
A Long spokesman said Friday that Long will still move forward with his plans to encourage other state legislatures to enact resolutions requesting a constitutional convention, even though Indiana did not.