A lot of really bad ideas fall by the wayside when the Texas Legislature meets — fortunately, because there’s no shortage of them.
But some real stinkers don’t fall away, and that’s why Texans must have their guard up as each session approaches. Early feedback is a good defense mechanism.
Here’s one that’s coming in the 85th Legislature, scheduled to convene Jan. 10: Gov. Greg Abbott, backed by other state leaders, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, will ask lawmakers to sign Texas up for a first-ever convention of the states to amend the U.S. Constitution.
As bad ideas go, they don’t get much worse. Abbott announced his support for this one back in January.
The governor wants nine new constitutional amendments that would, among other things, require a balanced federal budget, prohibit federal regulation of any activity “that occurs wholly within one state,” allow states to override laws passed by Congress or decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court if two-thirds of the states agree, and require a seven-vote Supreme Court majority on any decisions that override laws passed by Congress or state legislatures.
This is not an exercise in the theory of government. There’s a national organization supporting the idea, and a simulation of how it would work is set Sept. 21-23 in Colonial Williamsburg, Va.
Those scheduled to attend the simulation from Texas are state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury; Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford; Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land; and Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving.
King is chairman of the House Select Committee on State and Federal Power and Responsibility. At a committee meeting Tuesday, he said he’s “excited” that the Legislature will discuss supporting the proposed convention of the states.
The House passed a bill supporting the convention during the 2015 legislative session, but it died in a Senate committee.
What’s wrong with this idea? After all, the Constitution’s Article V provides for it.
Article V requires that two-thirds of the states (that would be 34 states) must sign on for a convention to be held, and any amendment approved at the convention would require approval from three-fourths of the states (that would be 38).
There’s good reason why this has never happened: There are no rules, and for every “good” idea for an amendment that a convention could produce, there are several “bad” ones that could also result from it.
And that’s true no matter what your definitions of “good” and “bad.”