Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Delegates Find Constitutional Consensus Elusive

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Delegates Find Constitutional Consensus Elusive

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - The Constitution is hard to change. That became obvious when a committee struggled for an hour Thursday as members tried to decide how to vote at the Mount Vernon Assembly, a meeting that is a precursor to a possible constitutional convention. The assembly is taking place this week at the Indiana Statehouse.

"Keep in mind this hasn't been done in 200 years," state Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Arkansas, told other legislators with laugh, as the group debated how to vote. "So, we're wading through."

The delegates are meeting under a process set out in Article V of the Constitution, which allows states to propose amendments. No actual amendments are being considered this week. Instead, lawmakers are focusing on the procedures needed to hold an amendment convention in the future.

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long said the point of this week's meeting is in part to limit the scope of the future event - an attempt to avoid a "runaway convention" and make sure the convention and ideas remain in the control of the states.

"Think of what we're doing as constructing a building," Long told the delegates during a morning session. He said it has to be "permanent, lasting and can stand the test of time." He received a loud round of applause from the entire House chamber where the delegates gathered initially.

Long said any possible amendment proposals are "premature."

Ohio Speaker Pro Tempore Matt Huffman is the chairman for the assembly, which continues Friday. He said the meeting is the "beginning of a journey" that may take years.

"This is extra work. You're doing it because you're trying to make a difference," Huffman said. "One of the things we need in this movement is more leaders, folks who want to step forward. And take over a lot of tasks that have yet to be done and need to be done."

After the morning session, lawmakers broke into three committees, including the Rules and Procedures Committee, which met in the Indiana Senate chamber. …

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