Are you happy with the way the federal government is operating? If not, are you interested in helping us change the way Washington DC operates? These are questions Florida Senator Alan Hays of Lake County asks everyone as he strives to gather interest in amending the U.S. Constitution.
The Founders knew the federal government might one day become overbearing and abuse its power. Sen. Hays believes that day has arrived. The most important Constitutional check to this over-reaching power is Article V, which gives states the ability to call a convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution. Sen. Hays leads a growing group of citizens who believe Washington DC is broken and will not fix itself, but he has a solution.
“The Convention of States Project (COS) seeks to urge and empower state legislators. The delegates at such a convention would have the power to propose amendments to the Constitution that would curb the abuses of the federal government.”
“A strong central government, like we have today, has proven time and time again that they are not going to change their behavior. So, it is time for us to assert our power as states and send a clear message to them that the states were the ones who created the federal government, and not vice versa.”
Hays, a Republican, insists that this be a nonpartisan effort. “I think it is imperative that from the very beginning we establish credibility with those of different political persuasions that this is not a partisan issue. It absolutely must be nonpartisan. There must be an embracing of the principle of compromise, without compromising our principles.”
Hays has submitted a resolution in the Florida Senate requesting the U.S. Congress call a convention to be held for the purpose of amending the Constitution. “It’s our obligation to send men and women to that convention who have a clear head on as to what a constitutional republic is all about. The cold hard reality is it is going to require the assistance of at least 34 states and the approval of at least 38 states. This is a true nonpartisan issue. It is imperative for the survival of the republic that we get ourselves back on course.”
“Three areas that we are offering amendments will be to reform the fiscal powers of the federal government, to restrain other powers and jurisdiction of the federal government, and to limit the term limits for federal officials and members of Congress.” A group of 5 to 10 amendments may be proposed at such a convention.
“Tax reform alone could repatriate billions of dollars to this country. You bring ten to twenty billion dollars back into the United States and you will see jobs everywhere. That will launch the recovery of our economy and restore the dignity of work to those people who want a job.”
Some may wonder what good is amending the Constitution. They think the government does not follow the existing Constitution already. Sen. Hays responds, “By us going through with the Convention of States and ratifying those proposed amendments, we will send a very clear message to Congress, and it will change the face of Congress, and change the court system as well.”
Term limits for U.S. Congressmen and Senators, and for Supreme Court justices, have already becoming a leading issue within the COS movement. Among COS supporters, a 12 year term limit for members of the U.S. Congress is being sought. Regarding this, Hays draws from his experience in the Florida legislature. He thinks the 8 year term limits in the Florida Legislature is inadequate to do the job effectively. “My idea of term limits in the U.S. Congress is 18 years. That would be three terms for each senator and nine terms for each member of the House of Representatives.”
Currently, the resolution calling for a Convention of States, SR476, has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee and to the Rules Committee. It must then pass through the Senate chamber. A similar measure must also pass through the Florida House of Representatives. Sen. Hays hopes that Florida will be “the first state in the nation to get the measure passed through their legislature.”
“One of the biggest challenges before the whole Convention of States effort is to break down the partisan walls.” Hays plans to spend much time reaching across the aisle to his Democratic colleagues. His message will be to “help us restore America to her days of grandeur when she was that shining city on a hill, and not fight that Republican-Democrat battle.”
“If you peruse the writings between Hamilton, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and the other Founding Fathers, you see very clearly that they understood what tyrannical government was all about. They were determined to retain the power of the states instead of allowing a tyrannical government to overpower everybody, and they gave us this tool with Article V of the Constitution.”
Could this be an idea whose time has come? Sen. Hays thinks so. “This is an issue that I will not let rest. I will go forward on this until I am absolutely shut down, or I am successful, one of the two.”