The following article was written by Eugene Curtin and published in the Bellevue Leader.
Laura Ebke can perhaps relate to those small bands of colonial Americans who first began muttering about royal oppression while downing mugs of ale and composing rousing pamphlets.
Ebke, the state senator from Crete, hosted a small gathering Nov. 3 at Bellevue University’s Military Veteran Service Center where she promoted a national effort to call a Convention of the States in order to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
About 10 people attended the presentation, where Ebke said the convention would discuss imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government, limiting its power and jurisdiction and imposing term limits for members of Congress.
While such a convention has never been called, the process for doing so is enshrined in Article 5 of the Constitution, which enables the states to bypass Congress and propose constitutional amendments of their own.
Any amendment approved by the convention would have to be endorsed by 38 of the 50 states in order to become part of the Constitution, which is the same requirement that must be met by amendments proposed by Congress.
The first step, however, is to meet the constitutional requirement that two-thirds of the states (34) call for a convention. So far, four states have signed on. They are Georgia, Florida, Alaska and Alabama.
Ebke wants Nebraska to be the fifth and has proposed LR 35 to that effect, a legislative resolution which is expected to be debated during the session of the Legislature that begins Jan. 6.
“What I want to talk about tonight is structural reform, and by that I mean changing the rules the feds have to live by,” Ebke said. “What are the chances that the Congress we’ve got sitting in Washington is going to propose a balanced budget amendment, or impose term limits on itself? It’s not going to happen, and that’s why the states have this initiative process.”
Brandon Benson, a legislative aide to Ebke, said the small crowd at the Bellevue event probably reflected the fact that Papillion State Sen. Jim Smith was holding a fundraiser the same evening.
He said the average attendance, as Ebke has held similar sessions throughout the state, has been about 20. He said the highest attended meeting was in Gering, where about 50 people showed up.
Benson, who said he has been involved with grass roots political causes for about 10 years, said he has learned not to let small turnouts discourage him. Any reform effort is more about commitment than numbers, he said.
“I’ll take three motivated people who will do something, over 500 who go home and do nothing,” he said.