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Arizona District Captain to the Yuma Sun: "Nobody can look at the national debt and say things are fine"

The following article was written by Blake Herzog and originally published in the Yuma Sun.

A Yuma woman hopes to spark support through weekly meetings for a movement seeking to use a never-used provision of the U.S. Constitution to pass amendments seeking to limit federal power.

Pat Andrews said, “I absolutely detest politics,” but last December she ran across a national group called Convention of States which wants to deploy Article 5 of the Constitution, which says the legislatures of two-thirds of the states can call for a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments.

She said she worries about what she says is an imbalance of power between the federal government and runaway spending by the federal government.

“I look at my son, who’s 29, and his future children, and think, “What kind of a world are we living in, with how much debt, and the unfunded liability on top? It’s just mind-boggling and nobody can look at that and say things are fine,” she said.

So she and her deputy district captain are looking for like-minded people who live in state Legislative Districts 4 and 13, which cover Yuma County, to join her at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday at Coco’s Restaurant, 2198 S. 4th Avenue, Yuma, to learn and strategize.

“We’re looking for other people who are feeling the same way, that we need to do something, we have to get our voice heard, people don’t feel like they’re being heard. And people can come in and share their experience with that, and they can learn not only what a convention of states is, but how they can help,” she said.

The Constitution’s Article V lays out both the congressional route all 27 amendments have taken, along with the “convention of the states” process, in which two-thirds or 34 state legislatures would have to call for the convention. Any proposed amendments coming out of this convention would then need to be ratified by three-fourths of the states, or 38, just like one originating in Congress.

The Virginia-based Constitution of States Project is asking state legislatures to get on board with a convention of the states to propose constitutional amendments to limit federal power, and has an online petition, among other issues.

Andrews said 465 people have signed the petition from District 13, which covers eastern Yuma, the Foothills and the rest of northern Yuma County. Another 197 have from District 4, which includes west Yuma, Somerton, San Luis and other south county areas.

According to an Arizona House concurrent resolution introduced at the Legislature this year, the Convention of States seeks to “impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”

Two meet the two-thirds requirement 34 state legislatures must call for the convention, and Andrews admits her group has a ways to go, if Louisiana endorses it as expected: “We’re almost at number 8. So we’re getting close to a quarter, after three years of working on this.”

And Arizona is not one of the eight, despite the resolution being passed by the Republican-dominated House all three years the group has pursued it, because Andy Biggs, the Gilbert Republican who’s been the Senate president, hasn’t allowed it to come up for a vote.

Even though the limited-government philosophy of the Convention of States is close to his own, Biggs thinks such a constitutional convention could backfire, and feels strongly enough about it to publish a 172-page book last year about the subject, “The Con of the Con Con.”

In a YouTube video from November 2014 of a debate at a Scottsdale Tea Party meeting, Biggs argues Congress would still have too much control of the process and the convention could be “hijacked” by liberal interests with opposite aims from the conservative movement he backs.

“I do believe Article V is a tool. This is not the right time because how many people in this room trust Congress? You wouldn’t be here if you trusted Congress to do the right thing,” he said.

However, Biggs himself is running for Congress this fall instead of the state Senate, so Andrews believes the resolution will have a much better chance at next year’s legislative session.

She said the fears voiced by Biggs and others about the process are unfounded. “There’s fear because people are afraid that people are going to go in there and rewrite the constitution. No, we can’t. This is not a constitutional convention, it is a convention of the states. There is a difference.”

The Convention of States Project is nonpartisan, she said, and she tries not to get into discussions of party politics, though she is a Republican. She especially doesn’t want to talk about the current presidential campaign.

“I don’t want to talk about that, that’s up to you. And let me tell you, most people aren’t looking for advice. Not at all,” she said, laughing. [...]

Andrews will have a booth at the Yuma Territorial Gun Show June 4-5.

For more information about the local Convention of States Project meetings, contact Andrews or (928) 782-1346.

Want to follow Pat's lead? Click the button below to volunteer for the Convention of States Project team in your state.