Bell pushes transparency in constitutional convention planning

After four days of meetings last week, representatives of 22 states – including Tennessee – have adopted proposed  rules for what would be the first Article V convention in American history, reports the Arizona Republic. Backers of the proposed convention say 27 states have approved resolutions calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring a balanced budget and they need seven more to get it underway.

Under an earlier plan, the “planning convention” would have been held in Nashville. But a bill making Nashville the site failed in the House after passing the Senate and the planning convention was moved to Arizona. (Previous post HERE.)

Seventy-two delegates spent four days in Phoenix at the Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention, slogging word-by-word through rules that ranged from whether to call participants delegates or commissioners, to how many votes each state should get during an Article V convention.

…The rules aren’t binding for a future convention. But participants said by the end, they’d accomplished a two-pronged goal: ease fears about a runaway convention and bring more public attention to the movement.

“Do not underestimate the work we have done here,” said Arizona delegate Rep. Don Shooter, R-Yuma. “Sam Adams said we must start small brushfires of liberty. This is a small brushfire of liberty.”

… There is concern — among some Republicans and Democrats — about a runaway convention that goes beyond the balanced-budget issue and with other changes proposed to the Constitution.

Participants at the Arizona convention have said that is a primary reason for the planning convention — to do everything possible to make it clear that they are focused only on congressional spending… There was a proposal to allow a convention to change its scope with the approval of two-thirds of the states. It was withdrawn after heated debate.

…Also among the rules discussed were other ways to assure transparency, including limiting access by lobbyists and outside groups, assuring meetings are open to the public and providing recordings of all procedures.

“You’ve heard the naysayers. They think we’re going to close the doors and change the Constitution,” said Tennessee delegate Sen. Mike Bell. “We need this to be as open and transparent as possible.”



Note: Besides Bell, the designated Tennessee delegates, all Republicans, were Sens. Mark Green of Clarksville, Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains and Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro; along with Reps. Jay Reedy of Erin, Sheila Butt of Columbia and Dennis Powers of Jacksboro. A press release on the Tennessee delegation, issued prior to the Phoenix convention, is posted HERE.

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