Wisconsin is a step closer to joining the list of states calling for a constitutional convention to take up a balanced budget amendment.
The state Assembly on Wednesday passed a resolution that could make Wisconsin the 28th state to request a convention – out of the 34 required. State Representative Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) argued the move is needed to help get federal spending under control, since members of Congress have proven unwilling to act on the issue. “$20 Trillion is our federal debt at this time,” Knodl noted. “My constituents are concerned about this.”
Critics warn the convention could have unintended consequences though, and argued during debate in the Assembly that the rules could easily be changed to go beyond balancing the budget. Rep. Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) said it could become a runaway convention. “It can repeal the Bill of Rights, it can repeal the 5th Amendment, it can repeal the 2nd Amendment, if you want it,” he warned.
Republicans dismissed those claims, saying the state’s delegation would be charged with focusing only on the balanced budget amendment.
The Assembly also passed bills aimed at establishing the state’s delegation, if enough states join the call for a convention to take place. The proposals now head to the state Senate, where their future is uncertain. Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) has previously raised doubts about whether Wisconsin should get involved in the issue.