A bill is moving through the North Carolina legislature that could push the country a step closer towards rewriting its founding document.
A committee of state House lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday that would make North Carolina the 13th state to call for a constitutional convention in order to add a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Under Article V of the Constitution, the country needs 34 state applications before Congress must call for the convention.
Bill sponsor and Alamance County Republican Dennis Riddell said a constitutional convention of states is needed so that the states can correct the federal deficit.
"We are putting the next generation in a form of involuntary servitude," Riddell said.
Once a convention of states has been called, state delegates can make any number of changes to the Constitution, as long as they have the votes. The only other convention of states in U.S. history was the one that produced the nation's current Constitution in 1787.
The North Carolina bill calls not only for a balanced-budget amendment, but also for limiting the federal government's authority over states. Democratic Rep. Bobbie Richardson said that made her nervous.
"As an African American who has benefited from the Constitution and from the fact that the federal government has interceded into state actions...my fear is not a financial one, my fear is the fact that my children and grandchildren's rights could be taken away," Richardson said.
State calls for a constitutional convention have gained traction since they began being pushed by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2011. Opponents worry opening a convention of states could allow special interest groups and partisan politics to drastically change the country's founding document.
The bill has already passed the State Senate. It passed a House judiciary committee along party lines. The next stop is the House floor.