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National citizens movement pushing for states to invoke their right to limit federal powers on state sovereignty
Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, will participate in an historical event in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia later this month.
Nelson is among 150 state legislators from 50 states invited by Citizens for Self-Governance to participate in a mock convention of the states in Williamsburg on Sept. 22-23.
“As a state legislator, one of the most persistent problems I see is overreach by the federal government encroaching into matters within state sovereignty,” said Nelson.
Citizens for Self-Governance is a national citizens movement pushing for states to invoke their right, according to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, to call for a constitutional convention to propose amendments to the Constitution.
The movement seeks for a convention to “return the country to its original vision of limited federal government,” according to its website.
“Our founders provided a remedy in Article V of the constitution, foreseeing the day when states would have to rein in the federal government,” Nelson said. “Now is the time to use that remedy. We have no other choice if we are to preserve our ‘government by the people.’”
Participants at the two-day mock convention will write, debate, and vote on amendments to the U.S. Constitution designed to limit federal power and restore the proper balance of state and federal government.
Forced closure of power plants, regulation of groundwater, imposing endangered species protections, restricting the use of public lands, mandatory school testing and access to opposite-gender restrooms and locker rooms, are examples of federal overreach, according to Nelson.
“Federal court decisions have usurped state authority over marriage and family law, health care and employment,” he said.
It takes two-thirds of the states’ legislatures, or 34, to call for a constitutional convention to propose amendments. Three-fourths, or 38, of the state legislatures must ratify the proposed amendments.
This is not the first time Nelson has been involved in the movement for a state called constitutional convention.
In November 2015 he represented Utah at the Assembly of State Legislatures held in the Utah State Capitol.
While Article V of the U.S. Constitution gives states the right to call for a constitutional convention, it does not specify rules and procedures for the convention.
The Assembly of State Legislatures is working on establishing proposed rules for a constitutional convention.
Nelson is one of six legislators from Utah that are voting members of the assembly. Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes appointed Nelson to the body.
The Constitution has been amended 27 times by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states.
In the history of the country, an Article V convention has never been held.
When the mock constitutional convention convenes in Williamsburg, Utah will be represented by Nelson, Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, and Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan.
“We have talked for years about ‘pushing back against the federal government,’ and now it’s time to actually do something meaningful,” Nelson said.