States have long passed their own measures calling for amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Georgia lawmakers, for example, have approved about a dozen such resolutions since 1832, protesting everything from the income tax and abortion to flag desecration and treaty powers.
In the 1950s and ’60s, state officials called for amendments to address states’ rights over school management in a failed attempt to preserve Southern racial segregation.
Republicans in the Georgia General Assembly passed measures in 2014 calling for a convention to consider amendments to place fiscal “restraint” on the federal government, such as a balanced budget; changing or “reining in” the power and jurisdiction of federal officials; and term limits on elected and appointed officials.
Several other states have passed similar initiatives in recent years.
Now, a bipartisan advocacy group of state legislators is hoping to tap renewed support for a convention of the states.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution authorizes 34 states to call a convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution.
Once the convention is called, delegates — or commissioners, as they would be called — from each state would propose, discuss and vote on constitutional amendments. Approved amendments would go back to the states for ratification.
For an amendment to become part of the Constitution, it must be ratified by 38 states.
“I believe the founders of our great republic gave direct responsibility to the state legislatures in our Constitution because they knew there would come a time when the federal government would need to be reined in,” Rep. Tim Barr, R-Lawrenceville, said.
However, no such convention has ever been held in the history of the country, and the Constitution provides no specifics for how the convention should be conducted.
Barr was among some 60 members of the Assembly of State Legislatures, representing 30 states, who attended a recent meeting at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
The state lawmakers approved a draft addressing all aspects of the rules needed to hold a state-led convention, finalizing proposed procedures to hold a convention of the states.
Georgia’s delegation joined the majority of states in approving the proposed rules.
The next phase is generating support from additional states, Barr said.
“I look forward to continuing to stay involved as we collectively press forward with this initiative," he added.