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[SUNDAY FEAURE] For first time in 150 years, state lawmakers will gather to plan constitutional convention

Speakers waiting their turn at the opening session of the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1967 included, seated from left, Senator Jacob K. Javits, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, Chief Justice Earl Warren and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Credit Bettmann, via Getty Images

By Alia Beard Rau | The Republic

State leaders from around the nation will gather in Arizona this week to plan what would be the first Article V convention in American history.

The intent of the Arizona Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention, scheduled to begin Tuesday at the state Capitol, is to lay the groundwork for a future gathering at which state leaders propose to restrict federal spending.

According to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, states can force Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution if two-thirds of the states pass resolutions calling for them to do so.

“I don’t think people realize the states have the power and authority to use this,” said Arizona Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, chairwoman of the Arizona delegation and one of the event organizers. “The states are the closest to the people and we know what we’re doing.”

Arizona is among a dozen states that have passed nearly identical proposals in recent years. But more than a dozen more have passed various versions of legislation calling for conventions over the decades.

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