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Guest Column: What is a 'Convention of States'

By Kristina Daley Roegner Ohio House District 37 Representative Published: March 29, 2017 12:01 AM
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Federalism: A constitutionally designed, conservative balance of power.

It is time for the states to embrace the constitutional principle of federalism and rein in a federal government that has over the last century become overbearing and overreached its constitutional authority. Federalism is the conservative principle that the 50 states possess all the power not specifically delegated to the federal government in our U.S. Constitution.

The constitution specifically enumerates Congress's powers in Article 1, Section 8. These powers are detailed and range from levying taxes to establishing post offices. To ensure the federal government stayed within its boundaries, our founding fathers included the 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights. The 10th Amendment clarified that any powers, not specifically granted to the U.S. Congress in the Constitution, were reserved for the states: Federalism.

Despite the best intentions of our founding fathers to restrain the size of the federal government, it has become overbearing; particularly during the last century. The federal government has overgrown its constitutionally established boundaries and has inserted itself in almost every aspect of our lives. Our national debt is staggering at over $19 trillion.

The federal regulatory environment has businesses ensnared in a death grip of crushing regulations, and an overreaching Congress has used its power of the purse to coerce states into adopting policies that further their social agenda. It is high time for the states to step up and rein in the federal government; but how?

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One piece of legislation currently being heard by the Ohio House Federalism Committee is House Joint Resolution 2 (HJR2), the "Convention of the States" project. The concept for a "Convention of the States" is found in Article 5 of our U.S. Constitution. It is a means to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Basically, if two thirds of the state legislatures consider it necessary to amend the constitution, and pass a resolution calling for a convention of the states, then Congress must call the convention. [The convention may only propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution; any proposed amendments must subsequently be ratified by three quarters of the states to become part of the Constitution].

The heart of HJR2 is found on Page 2 of the resolution: "The Ohio General Assembly hereby applies to Congress, under the provisions of Article 5 of the Constitution of the United States, for the calling of a Convention of the States limited to proposing amendments that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and Members of Congress of the United States."

While all conservatives agree with these tenets, many have voiced concern about a "runaway" convention; meaning that the topics could not be contained to those listed. They are concerned that if the U.S. Constitution were opened up for amendments, we could be at risk of losing the Constitution that we have now.

We have to ask ourselves what our founding fathers would do if faced with a federal government that had over time grown into the behemoth it is today. James Madison believed that the destiny of republican government is staked on the vigilance of the American people to tend to "the sacred fire of liberty."

Let us stay vigilant, tend to the sacred fire of liberty and together we will deliver a healthy and robust constitutional republic to future generations.


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