LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Conservative lawmakers concerned about the national debt and saying the federal government “needs an intervention” advanced a resolution Monday that would add Nebraska to a list of states calling for a convention of states.
For a constitutional convention of states to occur, 38 states would need to join the call. If approved two more times, Nebraska would be the 15th state to join a convention of states.
“We either continue to do what we’re doing and accept a fate that I don’t want to accept, or we make change,” said Sen. Tom Brewer. It hasn't happened since 1787 when the Founding Fathers created the Constitution.
Much of the argument for supporters centered on the high national debt and the federal government’s ineptitude.
“I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on, they’re not capable of doing anything. They shovel money out the door as fast the printing presses can run it, but don’t seem to have a longer term plan,” said Sen. Curt Friesen.
The resolution from Hastings senator Steve Halloran passed the first round of voting with 32 votes and if passed twice more — and 23 other states join the cause — the convention, in theory, would be limited to amendments on three subjects.
Those would be to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, give term limits to members of congress, and limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.
That last line gave some senators anxiety.
“We need to treat it carefully and lightly,” said Sen. Adam Morfeld.
Opponents worried about a runaway convention that completely rewrites the constitution, which is what happened 245 years ago when delegates threw out the Articles of Confederation in favor of the US Constitution.
“It does not state that states may limit the call to a constitutional convention and in fact colleagues the last time we had a constitutional convention, it was a runaway convention,” said Morfeld.
If a convention takes place, the constitution wouldn't be changed automatically. They would simply propose amendments that both Congress and state legislatures would have to ratify.
Unlike other resolutions, it will be voted on two more times. Speaker Mike Hilgers said due to its subject matter it’s being treated as a regular bill.