INDIANAPOLIS - A top Indiana lawmaker wants states to demand a constitutional convention where they’d work to limit the federal government’s power.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said Thursday that he’s introducing a measure that would call for a convention where states could propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The goal at such a gathering, he said, would be to keep Congress from abusing its powers to tax and regulate interstate commerce.
"I think it’s the only way that states’ rights can be protected in this country," Long said.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows for a convention to consider constitutional amendments like Long is proposing. But it has never happened -- and couldn’t unless two-thirds of all state legislatures were to demand it.
Long said so far he has spoken with legislative leaders in Tennessee and Texas, who he said called the idea appealing.
"My intent is to spread it around like Johnny Appleseed as much as I can," he said.
The move comes as Long faces criticism from conservatives who wanted him to allow the Senate to vote on measures he called "blatantly unconstitutional" because they would have Indiana ignore federal laws.
He said his list of complaints with the federal government includes the U.S. Senate’s failure to pass a budget in recent years, President Barack Obama’s health care law and more.
"It’s scandalous," he said, "what they get away with."
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said he will carry Long’s measure if it reaches his chamber.
"There is general consensus that the federal government has reached into the corners of the room that it has no business going into," Bosma said.