By M.D. Kittle
Legislation that would lead Wisconsin into the "Article V Convention" movement passed on party-line votes at an Assembly committee meeting Wednesday en route to a possible floor vote soon.
The Assembly Committee on Federalism and Interstate Relations voted 5-2 in approving two resolutions and a bill aimed at setting the requirements for Wisconsin's involvement in a national convention of the states to amend the U.S. Constitution.
State Sen. Chris Kapenga's original measure specifies that Wisconsin's participation in an Article V Convention would be to support a federal balanced budget amendment - and nothing more. The Delafield Republican has said Wisconsin and other states should use the mechanism provided in the Constitution by the nation's founding fathers to force Congress to be fiscally responsible.
A substitute amendment authored by Rep. Kathleen Bernier, R-Lake Hallie, directs the Legislature and the governor to appoint nine delegates to attend the convention as representatives, should the Legislature pass a joint resolution applying to Congress for an Article V convention. The speaker of the Assembly and the president of the Senate would each appoint three delegates; the governor would appoint one; and the remaining two delegates would be chosen by the minority leaders in the Assembly and Senate.
The substitute measure provides protections from what critics fear could turn into a "runaway convention," opening the door to undesirable amendments to the constitution. Bernier's amendment allows the immediate dismissal of any delegate who "votes or takes any other action at the convention to consider or approve an unauthorized amendment." An unauthorized amendment is any proposal outside the scope of the application or the call of the convention.
And the Legislature would also be charged with creating a "committee of correspondence" that would effectively be the delegates' keeper.
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