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Support builds for balanced budget amendment convention

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Support is building nationwide for an amendment convention of the states to draft a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. On Nov. 22, Ohio became the 20th state to pass a resolution calling for a convention to propose such an amendment.

The federal government has now accumulated more than $17 trillion in debt, about $7 trillion during Obama’s presidency. While members of Congress and presidents have proposed ways to stop the dramatic rise in the nation’s debt level, the debt continues to increase dramatically. A balanced budget amendment is one tool that could help force the government to live within its means.

The Founding Fathers provided two processes for amending the Constitution. All of the amendments that are part of the document today were proposed by a two-thirds majority vote of both houses of Congress. The other method is one where the citizens in the states play a greater role. The states may call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments.

In the case of the balanced budget amendment, Congress has refused to act. Now, a number of states are considering resolutions to call a convention to consider a balanced budget amendment, including Georgia. In the 2012 session of the Georgia General Assembly, bills that call for a convention and establish a process for the choosing of convention delegates passed the Senate. Both measures were sponsored by state Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens).

SR 371 calls for an Article V convention to consider a balanced budget amendment. An Article V convention is so named because the process describing a convention to draft amendments is found in Article V of the U.S. Constitution. SR 371 passed the Georgia Senate by a vote of 39-13.

SB 206 establishes a process for selecting delegates to a Section BV amendment convention if one should be convened. Delegates would be appointed by Georgia officials. The governor, speaker of the House and lieutenant governor each appoint two delegates, and one more delegate is selected that is agreed upon by at least four members of the delegation. SB 206 passed the Senate 45-8.

The focus now shifts to the Georgia House of Representatives. It is up to the House to take up the legislation that has passed the Senate.

Citizens who desire to see these bills approved should contact their state representatives.

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