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Kentucky Won't Be Voting For A Constitutional Convention This Year

Kevin Bratcher holds papers at desk during committee meeting.
Legislative Research Commission
Rep. Kevin D. Bratcher, R-Louisville, presents House Bill 3, a bill geared toward juvenile justice reform before the House Judiciary Committee.

Two state legislative resolutions calling for a national constitutional convention got a hearing on Monday in Frankfort — but the issue won't get a vote this session.

State Rep. Kenny Imes, who chairs the Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, told the packed room the issue would be studied in Kentucky over the next year.

It takes 34 states submitting applications to Congress for a convention to be held. Thus far, requests have come from 29 states, most of which are calling for an amendment requiring Congress to balance the federal budget.

Bowling Green Rep. Jim DeCesare's resolution also contains balanced budget and so-called states' rights language.

“I know we have a lot of people that say we’ll have a runaway Constitution, and this is just opening the door for the current president and legislators to re-write our Constitution," he said. "Well, that’s not the case, because our current Constitution is pretty strong.”

Opposed to the bill was University of Louisville law professor Sam Marcosson. He argued neither the state legislatures nor Congress could limit anything that a constitutional convention and its delegates want to propose.

Military veteran Patrick King testified Monday that he is often thanked for his service to the country.

“Send a strong message of thanks by joining in an effort to protect the Constitution from a hasty and ill thought-out convention that could lead to damage of that sacred document," he said.

West Liberty state Rep. Scott Wells said it’s time for a federal balanced budget amendment, and that was driving his support of the effort. Wells told committee members Congress has no inclination to restrict itself on spending, and that it was up to states to impose limits.

The issue is expected to be studied over the next year and taken up again in 2018.

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