By Michael Hinman
The Laker / Lutz News
Now that Florida has taken the first official step to call for what is described as an Article V convention, preparations are being made just in case the other 33 needed states sign on and make it happen.
Gov. Rick Scott signed into law H.B. 609 on June 2, which outlines what Florida will do in case such a convention is ever convened. The state had not put together any protocol for such an occurrence in the past, but only because since the U.S. Constitution was ratified more than 200 years ago, no such convention has ever taken place.
But the possibility of an Article V convention happening started becoming a reality when H.M. 261 - a companion bill of S.M. 368 introduced by state Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby - gained the approval of both the House and Senate. That memorial takes a big first step to amend the U.S. Constitution with a measure that would force Congress to consider only single-subject bills.
"This is about having the federal government start conducting themselves in a professional manner," Simpson told The Laker/Lutz News back in January. "Most of the frustration we have with our government is that you have something like a spending bill in Congress. They always add on several hundred million dollars of something that has nothing to do with the subject they are dealing with. And as a citizen of the state of Florida, I am tired of our federal government being operated this way."
An Article V convention is one of two ways to amend the Constitution. The other is to have an amendment proposed by Congress itself, and then ratified by a super majority of the states - exactly how previous Constitutional amendments were implemented.
H.B. 609 passed the House on April 11 by a 73-42 margin, and the Senate on April 25 by a 21-15 vote. Simpson, who introduced the original memorial calling for the convention, did not vote on this supplemental bill.
The new law will allow both the House and Senate to appoint delegates and alternates to an Article V convention, if one were called. It would require the Legislature to adopt a resolution from both the House and Senate providing instruction to those delegates, according to a House analysis of the bill.
All of the delegates would be required to swear an oath to support the constitutions of both the United States and Florida, and abide by all the instructions of the Legislature. Failing to do to that could mean living life as a convicted felon.
If a delegate does not follow those instructions, their vote would be voided and their appointment to the convention would be forfeited. They also could be charged with a third-degree felony.
To read more, click here.