Delegates talk constitutional convention in Indy

Amendment process has never before been used

INDIANAPOLIS - One hundred legislators from 33 states converged upon Indianapolis on Thursday to devise a framework that hasn't been used in more than 200 years:  a constitutional convention.

Among those attending the gathering, many are hopeful that it could be a game changer – if it works.

"Are we going to be the people who deal with the issues at the federal government level, or are we gonna put that off until a real crisis occurs," said Rep. Matt Huffman (R-Ohio).

That's the challenge before the delegates who are deciding the ground rules for the first-ever constitutional amendment convention. Such a convention would give states the chance to bypass Congress and agree to call for an amendment.

What issue do attendees say is at the forefront?

"There is a tsunami of debt, unsustainable debt, raining down on our kids and grandkids," said Indiana State Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R-Fort Wayne). "No generation in American history has done that to the next generation. Right now, Washington seems very broken."

That's the opinion of Long, a key leader in the movement which has drawn primarily upon Republicans for support.

"It is bipartisan, although it is overwhelmingly one party right now," said Indiana State Senator Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte). "We hope to get key blue states like California and New York and get them involved, because we need them as well."

The U.S. Constitution allows states to propose amendments if representatives from 34 states meet and agree upon them. Then, an amendment must be ratified by three-fourths of the states, or 38, before becoming a part of the Constitution.

Making this happen would be monumental, supporters said.

"All of us are getting people or e-mails saying, 'You're crazy. What are you doing?'," said Wisconsin State Rep. Chris Kapenga (R). "A leader is someone who takes action until they hit a red light. A follower is someone who takes action only if they get a green light."

The group is set to meet again in December, though the exact location has not been determined.

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