State Rep Brad Dee will introduce a formal Utah Legislature endorsement of a constitutional convention aimed at limiting the terms of U.S. House and Senate members.
Dee, R-Washington Terrace, told UtahPolicy that the formal call for a “convention of the states” is limited in his joint resolution to a single topic: Congressional term limits.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows the states to call a convention to amend the basic United States document.
Already Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, has introduced HJR8, which would have Utah formally call for a constitutional convention for several items, including “impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”
Dee said his yet-to-be-introduced resolution would only allow a convention for congressional term limits, and not include other items.
“This speaks to the fear of a runaway convention, where other issues could be brought up,” said Dee.
He added that his resolution has nothing to do with any sitting congressmen, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Hatch has been in the Senate 38 years, and while Hatch promised in his 2012 re-election that this would be his last term, he has since said he may reconsider and run for another term in 2018.
HJR8 has moved out of a House standing committee and awaits full action by the House.
If enough U.S. states pass a call for a convention of the states, Congress must call such a convention, with legislatures sending representatives. Any amendment passed by such a convention must still be adopted by three-fourths of state legislatures, just like any other constitutional amendment passed by Congress.
Dee said his resolution will not suggest a time frame for term limits — “that would be up to the convention” — but he would guess the constitutional convention would look at something “reasonable,” like 12 years or 18 years.
The Utah Legislature back in 1992 adopted 12-year term limits for members of the Legislature, but repealed the limits as the first 12-year deadline approached.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled some time ago that only Congress or a constitutional amendment could limit terms of Congress.