Bill of the Week: We the People
Rewriting the Constitution is as easy as 1, 2, 3
Senate Joint Resolution 2 – Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury
Rewriting the U.S. Constitution isn't hard. All it takes is 34 state legislatures to call on Congress to summon a constitutional convention, then Congress to agree, then 38 states to ratify any amendments. To that end, in January Gov. Greg Abbott announced his "Texas plan," a full-bore agenda intended to constrain the powers of the federal government. His list of nine amendments reads like something a Prohibition-era bootlegger would dream up when the revenuers were on his tail, giving the states supremacy over the federal administration and U.S. Supreme Court, and demanding Congress pass a balanced budget. The Texas Senate has dumped eight of his nine demands, but is pushing ahead with a call for a balanced budget convention.
The plan actually breaks down into three component pieces of legislation. First, SJR 2, the actual request to Congress. Next, Senate Bill 21 establishes the rules for being a delegate. Finally, SJR 38, an administrative fix, revokes all previous calls for a convention. (This is not Texas' first rodeo on that front.)
The initiative is broadly seen as nothing more than an effort by the ubiquitous Koch brothers to use state legislatures to cripple federal regulations, and they've been pushing it in multiple states (exactly how many have backed the call is a bitterly contested count). The presumption was that the Texas House would follow suit. After all, all three measures passed through Senate State Affairs on Feb. 21, and then out of the Senate and over to the House a week later. However, the House doesn't seem to be rushing. The Select Committee on State & Federal Power & Responsibility didn't schedule its first committee hearings on the proposal until today, April 13.