The Call of the Convention

A formal, national convention of the states is the result of a state legislature passing legislation "calling for a convention to be convened" and inviting all states to send a delegation to participate. The "call" defines the scope of the convention, the time and place, and provides other information regarding the convention.

On March 30, 2017 the Arizona legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 2022. HCR 2002 included two issues relating to Article V of the Constitution. First, it defined how the Arizona legislature would choose a delegation to a convention for proposing amendments convened under Article V. The second (beginning in Section 14 of the HCR 2022) is the "call" for the BBA Planning Convention. The following explains HCR 2022.

Calling the Convention and its limits

14. That the State of Arizona respectfully calls a planning convention of the states, consisting of commissioners chosen and authorized in the manner that each respective state legislature determines or, if no manner is determined by a state legislature, selected jointly by the majority leadership of each legislative chamber of that state, to convene initially at twelve o'clock noon on September 12, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona for the limited purposes of:

(a)  Planning for, and recommending rules for and procedures to, the prospective convention for proposing a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution.

(b)  Recommending to Congress:

(i)  The criteria for determining the initial date and location of a convention for proposing a balanced budget amendment.

(ii)  A specific initial date and location of a convention for proposing a balanced budget amendment.

The scope of the convention is limited to the limited purposes as defined in the resolution.

In addition to creating rules and procedures for a BBA Amendment Convention, the planning convention will also address the issue of where and when a BBA Amendment Convention should be held.

Congress is obligated to call a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment when thirty-four states have passed resolutions instructing them to do so. Its only authority is to set the time and place for the convention.

Understanding that even that decision might be politically problematic for Congress (every state will want it), the planning convention will attempt to make authoritative recommendations to Congress on this issue.
Convening

15. That the planning convention shall be called to order jointly by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate of the State of Arizona, followed immediately by a roll call of the states. The planning convention shall immediately elect a permanent presiding officer by a majority vote of the states attending and voting under the parliamentary common law as modified by procedures traditionally followed by conventions of states, including the rule of one vote per state.  The planning convention shall continue to operate under the traditional procedures until such time as the planning convention adopts its own rules.

There will be an opening ceremony provided by Arizona, after which the convention will be brought to order in the manner described.

Temporary Rules

16. That the Legislature of the State of Arizona recognizes that a convention of states determines its own rules and procedures and elects its own officers. In the interests of efficiency and consistency, however, the Legislature of the State of Arizona recommends to the planning convention that the permanent rules contain certain principles traditionally followed by conventions of states, including the following principles:

(a)  A quorum for all sessions of the full convention shall be a majority of the states attending and for all committee meetings shall be a majority of the members of the relevant committee.

(b)  All voting shall be by state with each state having one vote, without apportionment or division, and each state legislature or delegation shall determine the internal voting and quorum rules for casting the vote of its delegation.

(c)  A majority vote of the states attending and voting shall prevail on all issues before the planning convention and in all committees, including any convention recommendations.

(d)  Convention officers shall include at least a president, vice president and secretary.

17. That the Legislature of the State of Arizona further recommends to the planning convention that:

(a)  The planning convention adopt Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, 2010 edition, as the source for the rules of decision in all cases not otherwise provided for by convention rules and orders.

(b)  The planning convention include at least the following three standing committees that are composed of a commissioner from each state attending, with each committee to be chaired by a temporary presiding officer designated by the balanced budget amendment convention committee until the committee selects its own officers:

  1. A committee on rules and procedures, which shall prepare for consideration by the planning convention recommended rules and procedures for a convention for proposing a balanced budget amendment.
  2. A committee on time and location, which, after hearing testimony, shall prepare for consideration by the planning convention a recommended time and location for a convention for proposing a balanced budget amendment.
  3. A committee on convention management, which shall prepare for consideration by the planning convention recommended facilities, meeting rooms, security and staffing and other management issues pertaining to a convention for proposing a balanced budget amendment.

Each convention by its nature creates its own rules. However, a convention cannot fully organize and begin its work without rules. In HCR 2022 temporary rules are suggested. It is anticipated there will be a motion to adopt these rules upon convening to enable the convention to conduct its business. The temporary rules would stand until other rules are approved by the convention.

Planning Committee

19. That an Arizona balanced budget amendment planning convention committee is established consisting of three members of the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona who are appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona and three members of the Senate of the State of Arizona who are appointed by the President of the Senate of the State of Arizona.

The Arizona balanced budget amendment planning convention committee, if necessary, may change the time, date and location of the planning convention and, if necessary, may appoint a temporary president and temporary presiding officers of the standing committees.

The Arizona balanced budget amendment planning convention committee shall coordinate the logistics of the planning convention, including the facilities, meeting rooms, security, staffing and other management issues pertaining to the planning convention.

The longest‑serving legislative member of the Arizona balanced budget amendment planning convention committee shall call the first meeting of the committee, at which time the committee shall elect a chair.

The following are the members of the committee:

  • Representative Kelly Townsend, Chair
  • Senator Nancy Barto, Vice Chair
  • Senator Steve Montenegro
  • Senator Steve Smith
  • Representative Anthony Kern
  • Representative Bob Thorpe

The Arizona Planning Committee has the authority over the convention until it is convened. In addition to arranging for the venue, staffing, and other logistical matters, the Committee will also review the credentials of the delegations sent to the convention by the states. It will provide to the temporary President the "roll of the states" prior to the election of the permanent President.