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Texas Senate approves convention of states legislation

February 28, 2017

The Texas Senate on Tuesday voted in favor of a trio of measures calling for a convention of states, officially advancing one of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency items this legislative session.  

Senate Joint Resolution 2 by Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, calls for a convention of states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The resolution seeks amendments that place restraints on the federal budget and check power and enact term limits for U.S. officials. The measure was adopted on a party-line vote, 20-11.  

A national convention will only happen if 34 states, a two-thirds majority, sign onto the idea, and amendments proposed at the convention would only be ratified with the support of 38 states.  

Senate Bill 21, also by Birdwell, which was approved and sent to the House on a 21-10 vote, outlines qualifications and duties of Texas delegates should a national convention be called. Only current members of the Legislature at the time of the convention would be allowed to serve as delegates, a measure Birdwell said would ensure accountability to constituents and colleagues at the Capitol. Birdwell also said the bill was necessary since statutory guidelines didn’t currently exist. 

The Senate unanimously adopted Senate Joint Resolution 38 by Estes, which would cancel all prior calls made by the Legislature for an Article V convention — some more than 100 years old — except for a balanced budget amendment offered in 1977 during the 65th legislative session. 

Estes said the measure allowed current members to work on a “clean slate.” Senators also adopted an amendment to SJR 38 by Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, that would cancel the state’s call for a national convention if a meeting didn’t convene within 12 years. 

In a statement Tuesday, Abbott applauded the Senate on passing SB 21 and said he looked forward to the House’s approval. 

“Our nation is succumbing to the caprice of man that our Founders fought to escape and I am encouraged that the Texas Senate has taken the first step in joining other states from around the county in reversing that trend,” Abbott said. 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/02/28/convention-states-legislation-passes-texas-senate-house/.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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