Texas government calls to amend the U.S. constitution for first time in more than 20 years

In June, Texas' unemployment rate hit a historic low.

In June, Texas' unemployment rate hit a historic low.

The Texas House of Representatives joined with Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Senate on Thursday in the call to amend the United States Constitution. The House approved Senate Joint Resolution 2 in a 94-51 vote.

The resolution asks the federal government to call a convention of states under Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The resolution's sponsor, Sen. Brian Bridwell, R-Granbury, also sponsored Senate Bill 21, the accompanying legislation.

The Constitution has never been amended this way, but if 33 additional states join Texas, a convention of states could happen. The last time the U.S. Constitution was amended was in 1992 for the 27th amendment.

At this time, only 10 states have issued the call for such a gathering, according to Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land, one of the resolution's biggest proponents in the House. He said he believes 10 to 12 states would make the call after seeing Texas do the same.

Texas' call is limited to certain stipulations, however. The resolution merely calls for amendments concerning term limits, fiscal restraints and re-emphasizing the 10th Amendment.

The 10th Amendment gives states power in areas not outlined for the federal government. Many elected officials in Texas have complained of federal overreach from the national government.

A convention can be limited in nature, according to the Convention of States Project, which is one of the leading advocates behind the call.

As a joint resolution, the legislation does not require the signature of the governor and will be filed directly with the Texas Secretary of State.

Abbott has already indicated this issue is a priority of his by making it an emergency item during his State of the State Address.

He has been persistently advocating for this issue for some time.

“All three branches of government have so far strayed from what the Constitution provides [that] it is impossible to put that genie back in the box by just one president,” Abbott said in December.

Rep. Chris Turner, D-Dallas, stood as one of the few members voicing opposition to the legislation, saying that Texas should utilize its 38 members in Congress to implement the desired changes.

Turner raised an amendment that would also ask the convention to examine an amendment to remove officeholders who colluded with foreign governments during elections.

"We have an obligation to make sure our elections are sacrosanct and protected," Turner said.

The amendment was defeated largely along party lines.

Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, compared Texas' issues with the federal government's overreach to local control. He asked why Texas would comply with the federal government in the area of immigration, for example in Senate Bill 4, which was sent to the governor's desk Wednesday, and not in other areas.

Senate Bill 4 mandates that states comply with all detainer requests from the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Currently, these are legally optional and allow law enforcement officers to evaluate detainer requests on a case by case basis.

SB 4 would bring repurcussions to agencies choosing to deny these requests.

"You come to us and you say you don't want federal overreach, but that's what happened," Gutierrez said.


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