With a vote along party lines, a pair of bills outlining the selection and duties of delegates to an Article V Constitutional Convention cleared their first hurdle in the Indiana House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 224 and Senate Bill 225, both authored by Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, were approved April 8 by the House Committee on the Judiciary in a 7 to 3 vote. The three Democratic representatives present at the hearing – Reps. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, and Vernon Smith, D-Gary – opposed the measures.
Long testified before the committee, reiterating his arguments for a state-driven convention to offer an amendment that would limit the federal government’s use of the commerce clause and taxing powers.
He told the committee members the legislation is meant address fears that any state-sponsored event to amend the Constitution could become a runaway convention. His bills include provisions that delegates cannot deviate from their duties at the convention or they will be charged with a felony.
Long urged bipartisan support, noting Republicans and Democrats should agree on the issue of states’ protecting their rights.
After the hearing, the senator said he was not concerned the bills would be viewed as solely a Republican cause. He believes his proposals could garner support from conservative Democrats.
“This idea has been gaining momentum for years now. I think the recent actions in Washington, either the Affordable Care Act, No Child Left Behind, the inability to balance the budget and control its spending, all of that comes to the point where I think the timing of this is important,” Long said. “I think for some Democrats it appears it is just an attack on Obamacare, but it’s far more than that. And if you analyze it without that issue influencing those votes, I think we have more bipartisan votes.”