It may never happen. But if it does, Alabama will be ready.
Two senators Tuesday announced legislation aimed at laying down regulations and requirements for any state delegates who might go to a convention called by the individual states to propose amendments to the Constitution.
The proposal, called an Article V convention after the section of the U.S. Constitution that authorizes it, has attracted interest in conservative circles in recent years, usually to advance efforts to pass an amendment that would require the federal government to balance its budgets. Both Orr and Pittman acknowledged that such a convention was likely far off.
Both also said their moves had nothing to do with the 2014 election, despite the popularity of a balanced budget amendment with conservative voters.
“A long journey starts with the first step,” Orr said. “If it comes at a time to select delegates, how we will respond?”
Pittman’s bill would allow the Legislature to establish a delegate’s duties to an Article V convention, via a joint resolution. Delegates would be required to adhere to instructions from the Legislature on how to vote; those who knowingly or intentionally voted against those instruction could be prosecuted under state law and charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $6,000 fine.
Orr and Pittman both said there were concerns about a “runaway convention” that would go beyond the scope of what was intended.
“There are concerns out there about an amendment convention and what could happen,” Pittman said, saying specific instructions could assuage those concerns.
The Constitutional Convention of 1787, which produced the U.S. Constitution, was initially intended to only propose improvements to the Articles of Confederation, but ultimately went beyond it.
Orr’s bill would allow the Legislature to appoint up to six delegates and six alternates to a convention, and provide for recalls if necessary.
Under the U.S. Constitution, 34 states would have to call for a convention for one to occur. 38 states would have to approve any amendments coming out of a convention. The Alabama Legislature in 2011 passed a resolution calling for a convention specifically for an amend to require balanced federal budgets.
– posted by Brian Lyman