‘Now’s the time’ say legislators supporting call for convention to amend Constitution

ST. GEORGE – A group of Utah legislators is supporting an effort to call a convention of states with the propose of crafting constitutional amendments limiting federal power. They have also introduced legislation that would add Utah to the list of states calling for that convention.

House Joint Resolution 3, titled “Joint resolution calling for a convention to amend the Constitution of the United States” and sponsored by Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, calls for a convention of states as detailed under Article V of the Constitution.

It is the solemn duty of the states to protect the liberty of our people – particularly for the generations to come – by proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States through a convention of the states under Article V for the purpose of restraining these and related abuses of power,” Nelson said as he read a part of the proposed resolution Monday evening via a Skype call to a crowd of about 30 people at the Dixie Center St. George.

Fellow legislators, mainly from Southern Utah, were also at the gathering.

The same resolution was proposed last year under the sponsorship of Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, and Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo. While it passed the Utah House, it died in a Senate committee. Despite that, supporters of the resolution believe it will do better this time around.

Utah Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, speaks to a group of about 30 people, including some fellow legislators, via Skype about a movement supported a call for a convention of states to amend the constitution with the purpose of limiting federal power. Nelson has introduced a resolution supporting the call of a convention to be addressed in the upcoming 2017 legislative session, St. George, Utah, Jan, 9, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Utah Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, speaks to a group of about 30 people, including some fellow legislators, via Skype about a movement supporting a call for a convention of states to amend the Constitution with the purpose of limiting federal power. Nelson has introduced a resolution supporting the call of a convention to be addressed in the upcoming 2017 legislative session, St. George, Utah, Jan, 9, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“We have high expectations this resolution will pass,” Nelson said.

In order to convene an Article V convention for the purpose of amending the county’s founding document, two-thirds of state legislatures must apply to do so. The purpose of the convention sought by the Utah legislators would be to pass amendments curtailing issues of perceived federal overreach and abuse of power.

“I think the Article V provision in the Constitution was intended to allow the people to take back control of the government to some extent when they believe it becomes necessary,” Rep V. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, said, “especially with respect to fiscal restraints, with respect to powers that seem to be out of control.”

Opponents to an Article V convention – including some of the attendees at Monday night’s event – have stated that worries exist of a “runaway convention” in which delegates would potentially amend the Constitution into something alien.

“I’m not afraid of a runaway convention,” said Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, who attended the gathering at the Dixie Center. “I’m more afraid of a runaway federal government.”

Coleman and others said the convention would be limited in its scope and wouldn’t allow for tangent amendments beyond the convention’s primary goals.

The group pushing for an Article V convention is the Convention of States Project. They have limited the nature of any amendments to be pursued to the areas of spending restraints, limiting federal jurisdiction and imposing term limits of federal offices.

An attendee at a meeting discussing a proposed convention of states to amend the constitution ask questions of (L-R) Reps. Kim Coleman, Jon Stanard, V. Lowry Snow and Ken Ivory, St. George, Utah, Jan. 9, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
L-R: Reps. Kim Coleman, Jon Stanard, V. Lowry Snow and Ken Ivory listen to an attendee ask questions at a meeting discussing a proposed convention of states to amend the Constitution, St. George, Utah, Jan. 9, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“Nothing outside those three categories can even be discussed,” said Dave Magnesen, the organizer of Monday night’s event.

A simulated convention of states were held in September in Virginia that was attended by legislators from across the county. Utah delegates at the simulated convention included Nelson and Coleman, as well as Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan. Ivory ended up being elected as the president of the convention.

“We demonstrated this convention will work by the results of the (simulated) convention,” Nelson said. “It will not run away.”

Out of thousands of amendments proposed in the simulation convention, six ultimately passed.

Thus far, eight states have passed resolutions supporting a convention of states, Ivory said. An additional 26 need to pass the same resolution in order to make that happen. It’s possible an Article V convention could be held in the next four to five years, he said.

Once 34 states call for a convention, state delegates would be chosen to attend and ultimately produce proposed amendments. Those amendments would then be sent back the state legislatures for ratification. Thirty-eight states would need to ratify the amendments to make them reality.

Rep. Ken ivory, R-West Jordan, speaks to a group of about 30 people, including some fellow legislators, about a movement supporting a call for a convention of states to amend the constitution with the purpose of limiting federal power. Nelson has introduced a resolution supporting the call of a convention to be addressed in the upcoming 2017 legislative session, St. George, Utah, Jan. 9, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Rep. Ken ivory, R-West Jordan, speaks to a group of about 30 people, including some fellow legislators, about a movement supporting a call for a convention of states to amend the Constitution with the purpose of limiting federal power. Nelson has introduced a resolution supporting the call of a convention to be addressed in the upcoming 2017 legislative session, St. George, Utah, Jan. 9, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

In order to help get Utah’s own Article V resolution passed, Nelson and other legislators said voters need to contact their state representatives and senators and ask them to support it.

A constituent’s voice can have a lot of weight, Coleman said. Both she and Rep. Jon Stanard, R-Washington, said it would surprise the public how little they actually hear from constituents concerning proposed bills during the legislative session.

Individuals who support the idea of a convention of states can also visit the Convention of States Action website and sign a petition calling for the convention, as well as learn more about the project in general and how to move it forward.

The petition is nearly two million signatures, Ivory said, with 7,000 of those signatures coming from Utah. Ivory said now is the time to make this happen.

“Many people think now that there is a certain president in Washington, there may be policy change,” he said. “Policies may change, but they’re temporary. Policies change all the time, and we need to move for permanent structure change to secure those divisions of power that protect our liberty and our right to decide at the most local level – now is the time.”

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

8 Comments

  • David January 10, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Good, fair report. Well done, Mori!

  • Chris January 10, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Suspiciously, neither this article nor any of the links provided therein articulate even a single proposed amendment to the Constitution. Ken Ivory and his followers are not to be trusted.

    • David January 11, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      It’s not suspicious at all. The topics are fixed, but the wording is not. 3 topics only: term limits for federal officials, fiscal restraints on the federal government, and restrict the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. Ken Ivory didn’t make this up. Learn more about what is really going on at conventionofstates.com

  • wilbur January 10, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    The Constitution is fine; the problem is with the lawyers (congress-critters).

    • David January 11, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      The Constitution as written is great. The constitution as followed currently by the federal government is 2846 pages long and involves hundreds of court decisions that are dubious. The founders intended us to use this tool to periodically balance out accumulation of power at the federal level. Learn more at cosaction.com

  • KarenS January 11, 2017 at 7:31 am

    So, in a nutshell, Ken Ivory and his followers want to bring back the Articles of Confederation. The founding fathers realized the inadequacies of those Articles as time passed and then met and crafted our current Constitution which was ratified and has governed this nation ever since. I see no need to go back in time and I bet that most people agree.

    • David January 11, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      No, that is not at all what we want. We want a government closer in line to the federal-state balance that was intended. Article VI supremacy clause is not up for debate. We just believe that the federal government has usurped too much power

  • ladybugavenger January 11, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Let’s move forward. Stop crying and fearing something that hasn’t happened. Trump is President. Give him a chance. Stop hating! And just remember, it gets darker before it goes completely black.

Leave a Reply