Senate State Affairs Committee advances call to amend the U.S. Constitution

The Senate State Affairs Committee honored Gov. Greg Abbott's emergency item call for a Convention of States to amend the U.S. Constitution in its hearing Thursday morning.

Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, who is known for sometimes siding with his Republican counterparts, voted to pass the bill onto the floor of the Senate. The lone dissenter was Sen. Judith Zaffrini, D-Laredo.

The committee took up two pieces of legislation, Senate Bill 21 by Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, and Senate Joint Resolution 2, which narrows the scope of the convention to federal fiscal restraints, checks on the power of federal government and term limits for federal officials.

Per Birdwell's bill, delegates to the Constitutional Convention must be currently elected members of the House or Senate, so they remain accountable to voters. Delegates would not be eligble to be compensated and would swear an oath to only discuss constitutional changes within the confines of Texas' resolution or the convention's subject matter. The Legislature could remove a delegate if it deems the change necessary. The call for a convention would only last for 12 years, after which time it would expire.

The call focuses on an ever-tense relationship between the federal and state government, with both entities jockeying for more power. Birdwell said the federal government has taken on too much and has pushed the boundaries of its control over states.

"Today, the federal government treats the states as nothing more than subcontractors," Birdwell said.

If you have forgotten constitutional history from your high school U.S. history class, Community Impact Newspaper has provided a recap on how to amend the U.S. Constitution below.

The Constitution can be amended in one of two ways — the U.S. House and U.S. Senate can vote with a two-thirds majority on individual amendments or two-thirds of the state legislatures can vote to call a convention under which many amendments can be proposed.

To date, the Constitution has 27 total amendments, all of which were proposed by the U.S. Congress. A constitutional convention has never been used before to amend the Constitution since its creation. The last time the Constitution was amended was in 1992, when the 27th Amendment, which deals with the salaries of federally elected officials, was passed.

Notably, this amendment was first proposed in 1789. Even if an amendment does not pass with the necessary number of votes the first time it is proposed, it can live on as a proposed amendment indefinitely.

It takes 34 states total to call for a convention. Birdwell said eight states have already done so while 34 states have filed resolutions to call for a convention.

While all Republicans on the Senate committee did vote to advance this measure, it is not a clear party-line issue. Members of both parties have expressed concern with the limits of a constitutional convention. Once a convention is opened, there are no restrictions on what it will do in terms of amending the Constitution.

Zaffrini also questioned how the Legislature could ensure a bipartisan delegation when Republicans completely control the Texas Legislature. Birdwell said he has left this matter up to the Legislature at the time of the convention.

Many of those giving public testimony agreed checking the federal government's power was necessary but again questioned how they could ensure the convention would only stick to the state's priority items and not go beyond them.


Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Hewlett Packard Enterprise to relocate headquarters from Silicon Valley to Springwoods Village

Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced Dec. 1 plans to relocate its headquarters from San Jose, California to a brand new campus in the Greater Houston area, which is under construction in CityPlace at Springwoods Village.

CCEMS provides emergency medical services for approximately 177 square miles of North Harris County. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)
Judge rules Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 can no longer withhold payments from Cypress Creek EMS

The ESD No. 11 board voted to terminate its contract with CCEMS on Sept. 3 after a long history of disagreements over the two entities’ 16-year relationship.

Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital is undergoing an expansion. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Work on $250M Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital expansion continues, completion expected in 2022

The new patient tower at Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital will include for 100 more beds.

Klein ISD is seeking community input on the calendar for the 2021-22 school year. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Klein ISD seeks community input on 2021-22 calendar

Option A has the first day of school Aug. 18 and the last day of school May 27, before Memorial Day. Option B has the first day of school Aug. 23 and the last day of school on June 2, after Memorial Day.

According to business owner Van Luu, Stylebook Alterations moved to a new location within the Tomball Parkway Plaza in September earlier this year. (Courtesy Stylebook Alterations)
Relocations, anniversaries and more: Here's the latest business news for Tomball, Magnolia

The Tomball Parkway Plaza has seen a new meat market open and a business relocate in recent months, among other business news for Tomball and Magnolia.

1611 South Blvd., Houston: This fully restored 1925 home features designer touches throughout, as well as a guest quarters with a full-size kitchen. 6 beds, 4.5 baths / 6,374 square feet. Sold for $4,418,001-$5,081,000 on Nov. 30. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
Heights-River Oaks-Montrose real estate: See some of the homes sold in November

Among the properties that sold are a 100-year-old First Ward bungalow with recent renovations, a 1925 restoration and a 2011 custom home in the Heights.

(Courtesy city of League City)
League City City Council approves incentive program to promote capital projects

Having invested over $60 million in capital improvement projects in fiscal year 2019-20, League City employees now have a greater incentive to invest even more in FY 2020-21.

Main Squeeze Juice opened in Pearland in November. (Courtesy Main Squeeze Juice)
ROUNDUP: 6 businesses that opened in Pearland, Friendswood this fall

Here are six businesses that opened in Pearland and Friendswood in September through November.

Commuters who use the Northwest Transit Center in Harris County will have access to close to double the amount of parking spaces after officials announced the opening of a new parking lot Dec. 1. (Courtesy Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County)
METRO adds more than 200 parking spaces at Northwest Transit Center amid improvement project

Commuters who use the Northwest Transit Center in Harris County will have access to close to double the amount of parking spaces after officials announced the opening of a new parking lot Dec. 1.

A majority of businesses within Houston's Inner Loop have managed to keep their retail spaces, but future post-COVID-19 success isn't certain. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Retail leasing in Bellaire-Meyerland-West University absorbs a shock

So far, data on retail leasing shows occupancy and rents holding steady, but 2020 is not over yet.

As winter approaches, COVID-19 cases are up in Cy-Fair. (Courtesy Pexels)
COVID-19 diagnoses up nearly 100% month over month in Cy-Fair

DATA: The number of new COVID-19 cases confirmed locally throughout November nearly doubled over the previous month.

To support this initiative, community members are encouraged to visit NAM's Blessing Tree, located at 15555 Kuykendahl Road, Houston, where they can choose a child's name and shop specifically for that child. (Courtesy Northwest Assistance Ministries)
Northwest Assistance Ministries in need of donations to support biggest Season of Blessings campaign in nonprofit's history

Northwest Assistance Ministries is in need of toys, food and monetary donations to provide meals to more than 1,700 families and toys to more than 5,300 children this holiday season. By comparison, the nonprofit provided meals for 994 families and toys for 1,773 children in 2019.