Winning constitutional convention resolution a giant first step toward a balanced federal budget
The 2017 General Session of the Wyoming Legislature adjourned March 3 with a big victory for small business.
A top of the priority for NFIB/Wyoming during the 2017 legislative session was to get an Article V, Balanced Budget Resolution passed. House Joint Resolution 002 was a first step to force Congress to do just that.
HJR 002 petitions Congress, under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, to call for a Convention of the States. Along with Wyoming, 28 other states have passed similar resolutions, for a total of 29 states. If five more states pass similar resolutions, then Congress would be required to call for a Convention of the States for the purpose of drafting a Balanced Budget Amendment for ratification by the states.
More specifically, this is how the Article V process works:
- Step 1. Two-thirds of the state legislatures must apply for the convention to propose a specific amendment and then Congress must call for the convention.
- Step 2. State-selected convention delegations propose the amendment and then Congress must select the mode of ratification (state legislatures or state ratification conventions).
- Step 3. Three-quarters of the States (38 of 50) must ratify the amendment.
Once the amendment has been ratified, it becomes a permanent part of the U.S. Constitution. Congress can’t touch it, the president can’t veto it, and the Supreme Court can’t declare it unconstitutional.
The main obstacle to getting HJR 002 passed was not convincing most legislators of the need for a federal Balanced Budget Amendment, as most Wyoming legislators support such an idea. Rather, it was allaying concerns by some legislators about a possible “runaway” convention where other possible amendments to the constitution would be proposed.
NFIB/Wyoming and its coalitions partners persuaded the majority of legislators that there are many safeguards built into the process to make such a scenario highly unlikely if not impossible. The most significant of these safeguards being that anything proposed by convention delegates would need to be ratified by three-fourths of the states.
By passing HJR 002, the Wyoming Legislature clearly went on record that something must be done to rein in a federal government that consistently spends more than it collects. Today, the federal national debt stands at a whopping $20 trillion dollars. For years, NFIB members, when polled, have strongly supported a Balanced Budget Amendment. NFIB members loudly tell us that they have to balance their budgets as small-business owners, so it is only right to expect Congress to do the same.