Convention of states proposal comes up short in Nebraska legislature

NORFOLK, Neb. -- One month ago, multiple state lawmakers swung through Norfolk in support of a convention of states. That effort came up short in the Nebraska legislature on Friday.

The proposal required the votes of 25 senators to bring it out of committee and onto the Legislature floor, but the effort came up short with 23 voting in support and 14 voting no.

A convention of states is an act which would allow for states to vote to amend the Constitution, should three quarters agree on something.

Article Five of the U.S. Constitution indicates that there are two ways for the constitution to be amended.

The first is for Congress to propose amendments by a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate, and three quarters of the state legislatures approved. That’s the way all 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution have been made up to this point in history.

The other way, a convention of states, has never been done, but 15 states have so far agreed to call for such a convention, to consider imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government, limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limiting the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.

Citizens for Self-Governance, a group with ties to the Tea Party movement, has been the chief promoter of the idea.

The bill to pass Nebraska's support of such a convention was proposed by Nebraska State Senator Steve Halloran. Sen. Mike Flood (who owns News Channel Nebraska) and Sen. Tim Gragert had also shown support during the Norfolk presentation in March. 

Supporters of the idea said they wanted to put more power back into the people's hands. Critics, including Sen. Adam Morfeld, said the idea was "dangerous" as there would be no way to guarantee the convention would stick to the proposed topics.