Several Kansans – and a former U.S. senator – urged Kansas lawmakers to ask for a convention of states to amend the U.S. Constitution.
A resolution in the Kansas House would ask Congress to call for a convention of states under Article V of the U.S. Constitution. It wants to focus on amendments that would “impose limits on the federal government” regarding debt, federal mandates and term limits for members of Congress.
It would take two-thirds of states, or 34, for Congress to call a convention.
Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who left Congress in 2015, said state legislatures should be more assertive because they are closer to their constituents than members of Congress are.
“We have lost the balance between the federal government and the state governments,” Coburn said at a committee hearing Monday. “The federal government stands in the way of economic decisions every day.”
Tony Gillette, the Kansas director with the Convention of States-Action project, said personal freedoms were being threatened by “out-of-control spending, overreach of courts and political power elites.”
“The only solution is for the states collectively to use the gift the Founding Fathers gave us … in the Constitution,” Gillette said. “It is time for the tools within it to save this republic.”
Opponents of the resolution held similar views on federal overreach and debt but argued a convention wasn’t the best way to roll back federal authority.
Robert Wood of the Kansas Chamber of Liberty questioned the lack of clarity on who would represent each state at the convention. John Axtell, a lobbyist, said there should be a focus on enforcing current amendments to the Constitution instead of adding ones.
“The Constitution is not broken. Washington, D.C., is what’s broken,” Axtell said.
Last year, a constitutional convention proposal in the Kansas House fell seven votes short of the two-thirds majority it needed to pass.