Two Floyd County men are among the Georgia delegates at a convention of states called by Arizona to plan for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, and attorney David Guldenschuh headed for Phoenix on Monday. The convention — which Guldenschuh called “a dress rehearsal” for an Article V Constitutional Convention — kicks off at noon today and will run through Friday.
“It’s historic, what we’re doing,” Guldenschuh said Monday. “We’ve had regional conventions, but we haven’t had a national convention of states since 1861.”
Other Georgia General Assembly appointees are Republican state representatives Timothy Barr of Lawrenceville, Andrew Welch of McDonough and Bill Cowsert of Athens.
Guldenschuh said 27 states have passed resolutions asking Congress to call a Constitutional Convention to look at requiring the federal government to use a balanced budget.
There’s been no action so far, but if the number reaches 34, the states can call it themselves under Article V.
This planning session is in preparation for that day.
“There’s concern among some naysayers that any convention would run away, not stick to the topic, and they find that threatening,” Guldenschuh said. “This convention will draft a set of rules and regulations that make it clear the only thing that can be discussed is the purpose for which it is called.”
Hufstetler said he believes the federal debt is the biggest drag on the U.S. economy.
“Both parties ignore it when they’re in power, so the states are getting together to make the federal government do what the states, city and county governments and school boards do -- balance their budget.”
At least nine states have confirmed their delegations, according to the Arizona Legislature website, and another 14 to 20 are expected to attend.
Registration is set for today, when the group will convene to elect officers and organize committees. Wednesday will be devoted to committee meetings and Thursday to debate.
“Whatever carries over, we’ll finish up Friday,” Guldenschuh said.
The event, scheduled for the House chamber, is expected to be streamed online and there are seats in the gallery where the public can view the proceedings. Arizona Rep. Kelly Townsend, the majority whip, is the convention chair and Rep. Nancy Barto is vice chair.
The women are both Republicans, but Guldenschuh said the focus is on coming up with an efficient plan for a single-issue convention he envisions happening within the next three years.
He also emphasized that an Article V Convention is just the start of the amendment process. Once a Constitutional amendment is proposed, it would have to be ratified by 38 states to take effect.
“There’s a check and balance, so nothing controversial gets in,” he said. “Remember, we couldn’t even get 38 states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.”
However, Guldenschuh noted that 49 of the 50 states operate under a balanced budget requirement. He said there is wide support for forcing Congress to do the same, but the key will be how the Article V Convention comes up with its proposal.
“There will be great debate. We’re expecting schools to talk about it, for people to talk about it around water coolers. We think there will be tremendous discussion, and that will help us come up with a proposal that will get bipartisan support,” he said.