Before North Carolina can call for limits on the power of the federal government, it has some homework to do.
A group of Republican state legislators in North Carolina on Tuesday introduced a bill that would, if passed, establish a committee to study whether the state should apply to Congress for a “convention of the states” under Article V of the Constitution.
The convention the lawmakers have in mind would propose amendments imposing “fiscal restraints” on the federal government, limiting its “power and jurisdiction” as well as the “terms of office for its officials and members of Congress.”
The bill’s four primary sponsors are state Reps. Bert Jones, Chris Millis, Dennis Riddell, and Jim Fulghum — all Republicans. The bill itself, the text of which is only a page long, argues that the federal government has “created a crushing national debt through improper and imprudent spending,” “invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative process of federal mandates,” and “ceased to exist under a proper interpretation of the Constitution of the United States.”
North Carolina isn’t the first state to take a step in this direction.
The Convention of States (COS) Project, a Virginia-based group, believes that Washington, D.C. “is broken and will not fix itself.” The group urges state lawmakers to pursue measures like the one now alive in North Carolina.
“The COS Project seeks to urge and empower state legislators to call a convention of states,” the group says on its website. “The delegates at such a convention would have the power to propose amendments to the Constitution that would curb the abuses of the federal government. Article V of the Constitution gives them this power.”
The COS Project was founded by the Austin, Texas-based group Citizens for Self-Governance. Among the COS Project’s leadership are Michael Farris, the chancellor of Patrick Henry College, and Mark Meckler, the co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots.
Alaska, Florida, and Georgia have already passed “convention of the states” legislation, according to the COS Project, while Missouri, New Mexico, and South Carolina have measures pending.
Photo: North Carolina State Rep. Chris Millis, center, stands with wife Tonya Millis, left, while talking with his legislative assistant Vivian Sherrell during the first day of the legislative session at the N.C. State Legislative Building Wednesday Jan. 9, 2013, in Raleigh, N.C.