AZ House Approves Call for Constitutional Convention

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PHOENIX — Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff) may have missed out on the first Constitutional Convention, but he doesn’t plan on missing a second one if it ever happens.

Thorpe is the sponsor of House Resolution 2017, a resolution that calls for Congress to call an Article V convention. The resolution barely passed through the House on Tuesday.

The recent Article V movement nationally centers around the clause in Article V of the U.S. Constitution saying that new amendments to the Constitution can occur if two-thirds of the state legislatures call on Congress to form a constitutional convention.

The push started in the tea party movement and has been picking up momentum lately since the publishing of a book called “The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic,” by Mark R. Levin, a talk-radio host and commentator. Many conservative supporters of the convention initiative hope to limit the power of the federal government over states, but some liberals see that a constitutional convention could be useful to them as well. In such a convention, amendments (if ratified) would not require the approval of the president or the existing Congress. But opponents of the idea worry about a runaway convention could occur, where significant and impulsive changes to the Constitution, including weakening of the Bill of Rights, could occur.

Thorpe said he is aware of those concerns. “We’ve always felt the first time we meet as a convention, let’s keep it very focused and limited. That way the folks that have been concerned about a runaway convention will have fewer concerns if it’s a single-subject, very focused convention.”

In December, Thorpe attended a meeting dubbed the Mount Vernon Assembly at the historic home of George Washington in Mount Vernon, Va., along with Majority Leader Rep. David Gowan (R-Sierra Vista), Rep. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) and Sen. Kelli Ward (R-Lake Havasu City).

“The whole purpose of the Mount Vernon Assembly was so that we could start thinking about it and meeting as groups of interested people,” he said. At the meeting, 97 representatives from 32 states discussed ways to call for a constitutional convention and the number of delegates that would be sent from each state.

A bill passed by the House on Monday set guidelines for potential delegates that would enable legislators to provide scope on what any delegates could and could not vote on, and would provide the ability to recall them if they violated the legislature’s instructions. That bill passed along party lines.

Right now there are three bills going through the House that would call on Congress to create a convention. Rep. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) is running a bill supported by the Goldwater Institute, and Townsend is running her own resolution. Thorpe said that there are around 20 other states that are considering similar bills.

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