By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, April 15, the House Constitution Campaigns & Elections Committee will hold a public hearing on House Bill 379, sponsored by State Representative Ed Henry (R-Hartselle).
HB 379, “As introduced would adopt the Compact for a Balanced Budget to facilitate the calling of an Article V constitutional convention to amend the United States Constitution to include a balanced budget requirement for Congress. The bill will increase obligations to the State for reasonable expense reimbursement of the three convention delegates, presumably the State General Fund. This bill could also increase obligations to the State, to be funded as determined by Alabama law, by an undetermined amount dependent on (1) if Alabama has a member in the Commission and (2) commission bylaws allowing for modest salaries and expense reimbursement.”
This Article V Convention differs from the one called for by the Convention of States (COS) project in that it is more limited in its scope and would not address term limits or limiting the scope of the Federal government. The COS Convention addresses those issues as well as a balanced budget amendment. The public hearing will be in Room 321 at 9:00 am.
The Alabama Political Reporter spoke with Convention of States Alabama Legislative Liaison, Terry Richmond, about Henry’s bill. Richmond said, “Rep. Henry’s bill fits very nicely in my Convention of States. I am supportive of his bill; but I thought we passed that in 2011. 26 or 27 states have already passed a call for a balanced budget amendment.”
Richmond said that every state except for Vermont requires that a state balance their budget. The Federal government, however, does not have a balance budget requirement, so the Federal government continues to spend more than it takes in.
Richmond said that he thinks that Rep. Henry may be introducing the call because of some issue with making the wording correspond with that in other states’ call for the amendment.
Richmond said that more than 34 states have now passed a call for a Balanced Budget Amendment, but some have rescinded their call. Some supporters question whether a state legislature even can rescind a call for a convention once passed. Once group has requested an official count of the ballots from the Office of the Clerk of the US Congress. The clerk replied that Congress has not passed a statute authorizing the Clerk to count the calls from the states thus could give no count.
Richmond said, “They are doing everything they can to stop us.
It takes 2/3s (34) of the states to call an Article V amending Convention and 3/4s (38) of the states to ratify any amendment passed by the convention, assuming the convention can agree on recommending any amendment.
Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) has introduced a balanced budget into Congress every year that he has served in the Senate and it never passes out of the Congress.
The Committee will also address Senate Bills 25, 26, and 27 which rewrite whole sections of the 1901 Alabama Constitution. In 2014 Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ruled that the process by which legislators are rewriting the Alabama State Constitution is unconstitutional and any article by article modernization should have been done by Constitutional Convention.
The legislators have proceeded anyway.