Your Georgia Desk:
Legislative Week 4 Recap
Sen. Bill Heath (R–Bremen)
This week, the General Assembly completed its 19th Legislative Day on Friday, leaving us with 11 working days until Crossover Day – the last day that bills can transfer to the opposite chamber for passage this year. Since 2014 marks the end of a biennial term, all bills that don’t achieve final passage during the 2014 session must be completely reintroduced the following year.
In an effort to reign the federal spending, the Senate passed Senate Resolution 736. If adopted, Georgia would become the first state to call for a convention of states for the purposes of imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government. The resolution also provides for potential constitutional amendments that would limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government as well as the terms of office for federal officials and members of congress.
Under Article V of the United States Constitution, states are given the power to call for a convention of states. A request for an amendment must be submitted by two-thirds of state legislatures, making applications on the same topic.
Once the proposed amendments are debated and approved by the convention, they are sent to the 50 states for ratification by their legislatures. In order for the amendments to be ratified, three quarters of the states must agree on the proposed constitutional amendment.
I voted for the passage of Senate Resolution 736, but not without my fair share of concern. While it is always in the best interests of Americans to demonstrate fiscal restraint on all levels of government, we as a nation continue to elect U.S. Senators and Representatives that only continue to perpetuate the cycle of debt.
Fifty years ago, I would have placed more trust in a convention of delegates to propose an amendment to maintain the integrity of our federal bankrolls. But today, it seems there are plenty of officials elected by the voters who spend our money without regard for who must pay the bills. These are not the kind of people I would want as my delegate to a convention catered toward restoring fiscal responsibility at the federal level.
I also share a concern with many people that a runaway convention could pose a real threat without the proper control mechanisms. Before requesting a convention of states, a responsible state would establish the parameters for selecting its delegates. Last year, before adopting Senate Resolution 371, the Senate made certain that Senate Bill 206 would be adopted that same day. Senate Bill 206 set forth the appointment process for Georgia’s delegates as well as a method for replacing any delegate that took up any measure other than that of a balanced budget amendment. An Article V convention bears some risk since it has never been done before, but there is also great risk in sitting idle and doing nothing while Congress reaches into our grandchildren’s piggybank.
No group other than the states can pressure the federal government to start spending within its means, and this cycle of perpetual debt will continue until the states tell the federal government that enough is enough.
Prosperity through taxation and indulgent spending are dangerous ideals to perpetuate to America. Unless the federal government balances the budget and finds solid financial footing, there is no doubt in my mind that we will continue to experience financial hardship.
Georgia’s diligent state government does their part to protect itself from irresponsible financial operations, and our state’s hardworking citizens make many sacrifices to live within their means. We should insist the federal government does the same.