AUSTIN – State Representative Paul Workman attended a press conference alongside Reps. Phil King, Rick Miller, and James White to call for an Article V Convention of States.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides that Congress shall call a convention for the purposes of proposing amendments to the Constitution upon the application of two-thirds of the several states. Support for calling such a convention has been building in Texas and around the United States.
Rep. Workman's full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are provided below:
I would like to begin with the words of Thomas Jefferson, one of our Founding Fathers, who said in 1798, "I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our constitution ... I mean an additional article taking from the federal government the power of borrowing."
Jefferson knew that borrowing money would only lead to the demise of the nation. Here we are, 217 years later, and our nation has an insatiable appetite for government largess with a debt in excess of 18 trillion dollars; more than $56,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country, and there does not seem to be any end in sight.
In 1787, near the end of the constitutional convention, George Mason added a provision to the constitution which gives the states power to act when the federal government fails to act. Article V of our constitution reads in part, "… on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several states, (the Congress) shall call a convention for proposing Amendments…" Today, many people refer to this type of convention as a Convention of the States.
George Mason insisted on this provision to give the states the ability to propose amendments to our constitution when the Congress refused to do so or if Congress misbehaved. We are now 100 years into Congressional bad behavior which has systematically and purposefully stripped the states of their sovereignty and it is going on as we speak.
This method of amending the Constitution has never been used before, but many believe that this was a method left in place by the Founders for the states to assert their sovereignty over an out-of-control federal government. In the past, all amendments have been proposed by Congress.
Supposing a proposed amendment was adopted by a convention, it would still have to go through the typical ratification process:
The amendment would be sent to the states by Congress to be ratified by three-fourths (38) of the several states, either by state conventions or by acts of the state legislatures. To date, all amendments have been ratified by the state legislatures, with the exception of the 21st Amendment, which was ratified by state conventions.
Some people have expressed concern of a "runaway" convention. I do not share this concern; I believe that the three-fourths ratification requirement is too high a bar to pass for any so-called "rogue" amendments.
Throughout the years the states have attempted to use Article V of the constitution to accomplish things that Congress would not do. In fact, more than 200 such applications have been made since the founding of our nation. Texas has passed a dozen such applications.
The most recent application was passed by the Texas Legislature in 1977, which called on the U.S. Congress to rein itself in fiscally or consider the resolution an application for a Convention of the States for the purpose of proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.
There are several initiatives gathering steam around the country to call for a Convention of the States. We are gathered here today to announce that the state of Texas is again demanding that the federal government get its fiscal house in order or call a convention of the states so that the states can propose a fiscal restraint amendment to the constitution.
In a few moments, I will ask the other Representatives to explain their legislation, but first, I would like to touch briefly on the resolutions I have authored, HJRs, 78 and 79:
The resolutions I have authored seek to reaffirm and clarify Texas' longstanding desire for a Convention of the States for the purposes of proposing a balanced budget amendment.
A video of the press conference is available on the House of Representatives website: http://www.house.state.tx.us/video-audio/press-conference/.