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In the News: PA Rep. Gabler calls for convention to restrain federal power

The following was written by Amanda Nichols and originally published in The Bradford Era.

State Rep. Matt Gabler, R-DuBois, is calling for a “Convention of States” to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution imposing restraints on federal power and jurisdiction.

A joint public hearing was held on April 13 with the Senate State Government Committee on House Bill 63, which calls for an application for an Article V convention.

The convention would bring five delegates from each state to propose amendments for the Constitution, according to Gabler.

According to Gabler, the Constitution provides for two methods of proposing amendments: those proposed by Congress, or, alternatively, by a “convention for proposing Amendments.” Congress would be required to call a convention upon application by two-thirds of the states, he said, noting this concurrent resolution proposes Pennsylvania’s application to Congress for such a convention. 

Similar resolutions are working their way through the legislatures of other states. Georgia, Florida and Alaska have already adopted these resolutions, while Arizona’s resolution has passed their State House, according to Gabler.

Gabler said he certainly does not want to open “Pandora’s Box” to unwanted amendments.

“This (bill) calls for a limited convention, so it wouldn’t allow for amendments on just anything and everything — only could propose amendments that could further limit the powers of the federal government and its officers and impose fiscal restraints,” he explained.

Any amendment proposed by the convention would need to be ratified by three-quarters of states in order to be adopted.

Gabler said he put forth the resolution as a response to requests from his constituents.

“People come up to me and say, ‘Matt, I know you’re working hard in Harrisburg, but what about that mess in Washington?’,” he related. “This is the one formal means by which a state legislator has authority, granted by the U.S. Constitution.”

Gabler said the purpose of the last week’s hearing was for testimony to be heard “from folks on all sides of the question, for state and house government committees to dive into the issue a little bit better than we have. 

“It was a very good hearing, it was one of the most informational,” he continued. “There was a very high level of discussion, and it was a really great opportunity. I think it was a very positive thing to get people thinking not only about this resolution but what the concerns are we have with our form of government and what we can do to make it better.”

Gabler said a Convention of States will “create the needed opportunity for states to hold the federal government accountable to the voices of the people."

“A convention will provide a means to propose solutions to problems that stem from unchecked activities of a bloated and oversized federal government,” he stated. “While some people have expressed well-placed reservations about the dangers of a Constitutional Convention, I believe this resolution’s language includes the proper protections against unintended consequences.

“This resolution is our opportunity as state legislators to exercise our proper role in starting the process of working toward a more accountable federal government,” Gabler said. 

Click here to read more from The Bradford Era.

Note: The article's assertion that each state would send five delegates is incorrect -- states are free to send as many delegates as they wish, but each state only gets one vote.