A resolution to authorize Nebraska to participate in a convention of the states advanced from the first of three rounds of debate in the state legislature Monday, Jan. 10.

LR14, introduced by Hastings Sen. Steve Halloran, would be Nebraska’s application for a convention of the states authorized under the U.S. Constitution.

If 34 states commit to a convention, states could propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution that would limit the size and authority of the federal government, consider fiscal restraints and consider term limits for members of Congress.

Halloran said 15 state legislatures have called for such a convention. He said the nation’s nearly $30 trillion debt is evidence that the federal government is acting irresponsibly.

“The federal government needs an intervention,” Halloran said. “The federal debt is spiraling out of control. America is now reaching a tipping point.”

Albion Sen. Tom Briese supported the resolution, saying he favors constraints on federal spending and term limits for members of Congress.

“If you believe as I do, you have to ask yourself, how else are you going to get this done?” he said.

Lincoln Sen. Adam Morfeld said the resolution could lead to a “runaway convention” that could go beyond LR 14’s intended scope. He added that a group met in America’s infancy to revise the Articles of Confederation, but instead scrapped them entirely and adopted the U.S. Constitution.

“The only precedent we have, colleagues, is our current constitution, which went far outside the bounds of the original call,” Morfeld said.

Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue also opposed LR 14. She said several states have rescinded their applications for a convention of the states in recent years.

“Our constitution is not the problem,” she said. “The problem is big money in campaigns.”

Morfeld offered an amendment that would prohibit a convention of the states from proposing any amendments to restrict, disempower or eliminate gun rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Halloran called the amendment a “poison pill,” because all state applications must be identical, and urged senators to vote against it.

The Morfeld amendment failed on a vote of 12-22. LR 14 then advanced to select file on a 32-10 vote.

The Unicameral Update is the official news service of the Nebraska Legislature.

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