Quantcast

Utah lawmakers reject call for constitutional convention

Published March 10, 2014 2:36 pm

Creative debate • Using a Sesame Street monster fails to sway leery lawmakers.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Rep. Kraig Powell may have won some points Monday for creativity in debate, but he failed to convince legislators to join other states in a call for a constitutional convention to adopt a balanced budget amendment.

Other lawmakers fear a "runaway" convention that could go far beyond a simple mandate of requiring the federal government to adopt a federal budget every year, and vastly rewrite the Constitution.

So using his best squeaky-voice imitation of the blue furry monster Grover on TV's Sesame Street, Powell, R-Heber City, read from a book called "There Is A Monster At The End Of This Book."

He read how Grover urges the reader not to get to the end of the book because a monster is there. But at the end, Grover says, "Look at that. This is the end of the book and the only one here is me. I, lovable, furry old Grover am the monster at the end of this book."

Powell then told the House, "The only ones we are really worrying about is us, the lovable monsters in our own state legislatures." He said they will appoint the delegates to the convention, and give instructions — so they should not worry.

But his HJR8 failed on a 32-41 vote anyway.

Several lawmakers — noting they have been flooded with emails on the issue — questioned running the risk of an out-of-control convention when Congress might ignore the amendment anyway.

"There are states with balanced budget amendments that have ignored those" including California, said Rep. Jack Draxler, R-North Logan. "I'm not sure Congress would adhere."

Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, said, amendments he has seen proposed would allow deficits in emergencies, and he figures that Congress might declare an emergency over anything and everything.

But some such as Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, said the constitutional convention may be the only remaining chance to control spending in Washington.

"We have to be able to draft an amendment that says we are at an extreme crisis situation in this country, so we are taking extreme measures to bring these states together and pass this amendment," Noel said.

Powell said 21 other states have called for a constitutional convention so far.