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Members of the House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing Saturday for three bills that, if passed, could send a number of West Virginia delegates to Washington, D.C. to try and amend the constitution on budget related charges.
The first, House Concurrent Resolution 36, would add West Virginia to the list of states applying for an Article Five Convention of States to amend the U.S. Constitution. Similar to a resolution approved in the state Senate last year, the convention would focus on amending the federal Constitution to require Congress to balance the nation’s budget each year, except in times of a national emergency.
House Bills 2424 and 4449 were also on the public hearing’s agenda. The bills provide the procedure for picking delegates to represent the state at such a convention and limiting the convention to the balanced budget amendment.
34 states would have to approve similar resolutions in order to actually call the convention of states.
Out of the fourteen speakers Saturday, 9 were against the measure and 5 spoke in favor.
House Judiciary Chairman John Shott says he’s astonished at the country’s level of debt and an Article Five Convention of States could be one option to rein in government spending.
“In concept, I think it makes a lot of sense,” Shott explained, “As with most things, a lot depends on how it’s implemented and what kind of protections you have, because I don’t think anybody would want a wide open runaway type conventions where, for instance, the Bill of Rights could be changed. We’ll consider those issues when it’s put on the agenda in the committee, and determine what, if any action, as a committee, we want to recommend to the full House.”
The Senate’s Judiciary Committee also took up a Convention of State’s bill Saturday. Chairman Shott, however, is unsure how soon his committee will take up the three proposals.