Fla. state senators push for constitutional convention to rein in ‘runaway’ federal government

Two Florida senators are pushing for a constitutional convention to rein in a “runaway” federal government.

State Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, has filed a measure, known as a “memorial,” for the state Legislature to ask Congress to convene a convention to consider constitutional amendments to impose restraints on federal spending, set term limits for members of Congress, and put greater limits on federal powers over the states.

conconv1209Meanwhile, state Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, has filed a bill authorizing the Legislature to establish a Commission on Federalism that would evaluate federal laws to determine whether laws passed in Congress are within the framework of the U.S. Constitution “or if the federal government has overstepped their bounds.”

“It will bring Washington back to their senses,” Evers said Monday. “Hopefully, they’ll stop handing down this stuff.”

Under Evers’ proposal, SB 480, the commission would be made up of seven members, including the Senate president and House speaker; the minority leaders of the House and Senate; one senator appointed by the Senate president and two House members appointed by the speaker.

The commission’s primary purpose would be analyzing federal laws, but it would also act as a “committee of correspondence” with other similar commissions in other states.

Evers said the ultimate goal, would be to get the support of two-thirds of state legislatures to convent a constitutional convention – as provided for in Article 5 of the Constitution – if Congress doesn’t act.

While he lacks a House sponsor for the bill, Evers said he’s confident he’ll find support.

“I can’t see anybody who has a passion for liberty and self-government voting against it,” he said. “It would be like voting against someone named ‘America.'”

Naturally, not everyone agrees, not in conservative circles. Writing for the Heritage Foundation in 2011, constitutional scholar Matthew Spalding warned that even such a method of approving amendments is provided for in the Constitution, it contains too much risk that a gathering to control a “runaway” government could turn into a “runaway” convention.

“The vagueness of this method led Madison to oppose the proposal at the Constitutional Convention …” Spalding wrote in a column titled “Don’t be fooled by Article 5 conventions.”

“Combine that with the fact that no such amending convention has ever occurred, and too many serious questions are left open and unanswered.

Over the weekend, Hays was among 97 lawmakers from throughout the country who gathered in Mount Vernon, Va., to discuss organizing such a convention.

In a news release on his Senate website explaining the memorial, SM 476, Hays said concerns about the federal government’s powers are widespread.

“Everywhere I go, people ask me what can be done to reform Washington, D.C.,” Hays said in the release. “This petition to Congress to convene the Article V convention is the first step toward that reform.  This ‘runaway’ federal government is of great concern to Americans of all political parties and of all the states.

“Our goal is to have 34 state legislatures pass the petition in the years 2014 and 2015 then hold the convention in late 2015 or early 2016.”

Evers said the commission his bill would establish would put the Sunshine State in the thick of the action.

“Setting up this commission advances Florida to the forefront or at least the higher echelon” of states committed to a constitutional convention, Evers said. “It will move Florida a lot further than where we are today.”

Evers declined to speculate on when a constitutional convention among the states could become a reality, but said the point now is to lay the foundation.

“It may take two years, it may take three years, it may take five years,” he said. “But at least the ball has started rolling.”

Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].


23 thoughts on “Fla. state senators push for constitutional convention to rein in ‘runaway’ federal government

  1. BlueMax372 says:

    If we fail at accomplishing this, let’s go straight to Plan B: Secession!

    1. gregzimmerman007 says:

      how about we hold off on that for right now, although it may be a good thought. northern California wants to secede and become the state of Jefferson. western Maryland also wishes to secede. as u know, a part of Colorado wanted to secede and become its own state. clearly Islamobama has brought a lot of division into the USA and this could be our downfall. remember, united we stand, divided we fall. we must not give Islamobama the joy of seeing a fallen America.

  2. Steve says:

    … It is the job of the U.S. Supreme Court to nullify the many
    unconstitutional laws that have been passed – unfortunately for
    Americans, the supremes play politics just like everyone else inside the
    Capital Beltway.

  3. Aaron Barnes says:

    when he said Legislature to establish a Commission on Federalism that would evaluate
    federal laws to determine whether laws passed in Congress are within the
    framework of the U.S. Constitution “or if the federal government has
    overstepped their bounds. we don’t need one that what the supreme court is for.

    1. gregzimmerman007 says:

      But there may be a very good amount of time BEFORE the unconstitutional law ever gets to the Supreme Court to be tried, and then they usually take their good old time even though to us it may seem obvious that something is unconstitutional. Furthermore, since there are more liberal Supreme Court Justices than conservatives now, there is that outside, but definite possibility an unconstitutional law could be verified “constitutional” by the Court if it has been “out there” as a guideline for lawyers for some time.

      1. Aaron Barnes says:

        well the system only works when we have educated and inform people voting, that why we need to pass a law saying that if u get all or most of your income comes from federal social welfare programs u shouldn’t be allow to vote and to vote u must have 2 things with u; ID, voter register form, that how obama won his first and second elections

  4. gregzimmerman007 says:

    I think this is outstanding and I’m glad some serious lawmakers are already taking steps on moving on article 5 (by meeting at Mount Vernon, VA). In fact, I’m a bit surprised Spalding is not satisfied with this “backdoor” option for control of the federal government – being that the federal government is not controlling themselves. It’s like having a watchdog on the K9 canine unit. Additionally, given all the runaway, careless moves (i.e. executive orders) by Obama which have overturned the applecart means someone has to get in there and get hold of the cart. Remember when life throws apples at u make applesauce. We The People have to get in there and do something useful. First things first is to re-instate ALL the military officers that Obama released, silently. Then, increase the salary of all the military men to the former amount. Third, permit Christian prayer anywhere and everywhere, and at all times throughout the military. Guns can have ANY inscription the men choose these to have. Fourth, it’s unconstitutional to force any business to service GLBTQ’s if the owner/operator(s) feel it is against their personal religious beliefs.

  5. David Dodge says:

    40 years of kicking the can down the road with the budget idiocy and over-spending has convinced me this is the only way to go.

  6. oak logman says:

    Today, we have entrenched power forces led by the likes of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. And we have
    notoriously weak leaders like current House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who rarely miss a good compromise to keep the peace. These are the people who will decide the rules for the convention, including delegate selection. Do you trust them to follow the rules dictated by state legislatures? Do you think Pelosi and Reid would pass up an opportunity to set their own rules to guarantee a Constitution to their liking?

    And there is more. Concerning the argument that no matter what the delegates produce, the states still must ratify it – thus serving as a safeguard to foolish behavior, consider
    this fact: The Articles of Confederation required that any changes be ratified by 100% of the states. That was the document that was the law of the land – until something else was put into place. But, when the new Constitution was put to the states for a vote of ratification, suddenly they needed only two thirds to approve it. Why? The fact is, Article V of the new Constitution was used –
    even before the Constitution which contained it was approved. Now, what do you think Reid and Obama and company would do with that precedent? What if the new document produced by the Con Con said ratification only required a vote of Congress – or of some special commission? The precedent of 1787 says that could happen. So much for protection by the states.

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