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In the News: Ohio legislators seek states convention to amend U.S. Constitution, tame federal government's power

The following excerpt was written by Robert Higgs and published on

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Two legislators propose that Ohio join in a call for the states to meet and amend the U.S. Constitution to rein in federal authority and spending power.

Republican Rep. Christina Hagan of Stark County and Democratic Rep. Bill Patmon of Cleveland, introduced a resolution calling for a convention of states, as outlined in Article V of the Constitution, that would allow state delegations to meet. Their resolution calls specifically for debate on federal spending, the range of power and jurisdiction of the federal government and limited terms for federal officers.

"The intent of the resolution is to get us moving in the direction of a national convention," Hagan said. That convention would become the "tool for reining in government, or at least starting the conversation."

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, delegates included language in Article V that gives the states the ability to call a convention to discuss amendments.

But no convention of states has even been called.

Since the Constitution became effective in 1789, all of the nearly 40 amendments submitted to the states were a result of action by Congress.

That may be a result of the states being hesitant to throw the doors open to the amending process, suggests Paul Beck, a political scientist at Ohio State University.

"What they have going against them is the widespread belief in this country on the right and on the left that the constitution that we have now is a pretty good thing," Beck said.

But as the country becomes ever-more polarized politically and rancor grows over the federal government, its power and mounting debt, there has been a movement to try to get a convention of the states.

Four states, most recently Alabama, have approved resolutions calling for the convention. The issue is up for debate in many others. Thirty-four are needed to trigger a convention.

The resolution introduced by Hagan and Patmon mirrors sample language proposed by a project called Convention of States.

That project is an effort backed by Citizens for Self Governance, an organization launched by one of the founders of Tea Party Patriots. It has urged people to get involved and call their legislators and write letters to the editor and opinion pieces in support of a convention.

Author, lawyer and conservative radio host Mark Levin is among the project's supporters. Levin, who worked in the Reagan administration, wrote a book in 2013 calling for 11 amendments he argues are needed to bring the federal government back in line with what the founders intended.

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