Three bills related to calling for a constitutional convention advance in Texas Legislature

Mikaela Cannizzo

Three bills related to granting states the ability to amend the U.S. Constitution moved one step closer to becoming a reality Tuesday afternoon.

Senate Joint Resolution 2 proposes a convention of states for the purpose of amending the U.S. Constitution, while Senate Joint Resolution 38, revokes past attempts at a convention in order to clean the slate for legislators going forward. The full Senate passed both bills during their second readings and they will require a final third vote before advancing to the House.

Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, authored SJR 2 and said he believes a convention of states would help rebalance states’ power in relationship to the federal government.

“I believe over the last several decades, the federal government has simply treated the states as nothing more than subcontractors to federal will,” Birdwell said. “It is time to correct that.”

The Senate unanimously voted in favor of SJR 38, authored by Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls. Estes said the bill nullifies the 14 applications filed by the Legislature made to amend the Constitution since 1899. Senators agreed to an amendment to the resolution from Birdwell to keep a request for a balanced budget amendment made in 1977.

“The result will be a clean slate for whatever action our 85th Legislature takes in regards to calling for a convention of the states under Article V of the U.S. Constitution,” Estes said.

The Senate also voted favorably on Senate Bill 21, authored by Birdwell, which outlines the process of choosing delegates in the event of a constitutional convention. In addition to passing on second reading, the Senate voted 21-10 to pass the bill out of the Senate. It will move to the House for further deliberation.

Birdwell said SB21 allows legislators currently serving in the state to attend a constitutional convention rather than former federal senators and representatives.

“The states are the customer,” Birdwell said. “Therefore I want state legislators.”