The Legislature has formally voted to seek constitutional conventions to make changes to the nation’s founding document.
The Senate passed two concurrent resolutions seeking amendments to the U.S. Constitution. One (HCR 703) seeks a requirement for Congress to pass a balanced budget. The other (HCR 693) calls for term limits on members of Congress.
The Senate votes took place after the House already passed the resolutions on the first day of the Legislative Session.
The action of the full Legislature makes Florida the 26th state calling for a constitutional convention on a balanced budget amendment. It’s the 16th to demand a convention on term limits. The Constitution requires petitions from two-thirds of states, currently 34, for a convention to actually be called.
Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican, said the resolutions were narrowly tailored to apply only to single subjects, and they call for separate conventions.
“It can only be called for the purpose that is intended,” he said of potential conventions.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has endorsed the calls for constitutional conventions, and even pushed for two more. But as a concurrent resolution, the measure isn’t subject to the Governor’s signature or veto.
Article V in the Constitution provides two primary ways to amend the document. Up until now in the nation’s history, every constitutional amendment was approved the same way, with Congress proposing amendments that later were ratified by three quarters of state Legislatures.
Florida lawmakers want to use an alternative method never executed, calling a constitutional convention at the request of two-thirds of state Legislatures.
The resolutions passed by the House this year state that they only support a narrowly defined convention to deal with the issue at hand, and that Florida’s petition would be withdrawn if delegates work outside that scope.
The first Constitutional Convention resulted in drafting the U.S. Constitution as a replacement for the Articles of Confederation.
Many Democrats in both chambers of the Legislature said they supported both a balanced budget amendment and term limits. But many fear an unprecedented second Constitutional Convention that could introduce chaos to the nation’s foundation document.
“I think that the Article V convention is very dangerous, and opens us up to any number of topics,” said Sen. Geraldine Thompson, a Windemere Democrat.
Both measures ultimately were passed in the Senate on voice vote.
Ingoglia said a $34 trillion national debt showed urgency to the process. As for term limits, he noted how many members of Congress arrived in Washington promising to serve a short time but ultimately becoming lifers.
“We literally have people dying in office because they don’t want to leave,” Ingoglia said.