Like the vast majority of Americans, Pennsylvanians are tired of corruption. Some of us are coming together to change things. We invite you to join us.
To help ensure that the voices of people like us are heard, State Rep. Pamela DeLissio is holding a town hall at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Roxborough YMCA, 7201 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia. The meeting specifically invites constituents of the 194th State Legislative District, which includes part of northwestern Philadelphia and part of Lower Merion. The Democratic representative, who represents parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery Countys, will host two unrelated groups, PA United to Amend, which seeks campaign-finance reform, and Convention of States, which wants to place limits on federal authority. While we seek distinct reforms, both groups are using the same method of working via state legislatures to ultimately amend the U.S. Constitution.
PA United to Amend (PAUA) is an all-volunteer, nonpartisan group seeking a campaign-finance amendment to counter what many Americans see as the country’s most important problem — the corruption and special interests that have a stranglehold on Congress, blocking progress on virtually all of the most pressing issues of our time.
Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, those measures call for a limited “convention for proposing amendments” in which the states can discuss and then propose an amendment allowing states to make disclosure rules and reasonable guidelines for election-campaign contributions and spending. Such rules have been blocked by several U.S. Supreme Court rulings, including Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. FEC. An amendment is the strongest and longest-lasting way to help reverse the damage from those rulings.
If two-thirds of the state legislatures (34) pass resolutions on a topic, a convention must be held. Such a historic discussion would bypass the do-nothing Congress, potentially sending a proposal to the states. If three-fourths of the states (38) ratify the proposal, it becomes the 28th Amendment. Neither a convention nor Congress can accomplish any constitutional changes by itself.
Five states have passed resolutions for campaign-finance reform. Pennsylvania — home of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence — needs to be the sixth.
Here’s an important historical fact to keep in mind: Calling for a convention is a proven way to get Congress to act. Many amendments — including the Bill of Rights — have included a convention campaign. As Congress saw resolutions piling up on a given topic, they proposed the amendment themselves.
The topics of the Convention of States group’s House Resolution 206 are imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government, limiting its power and jurisdiction, and imposing term limits on its officials and members of Congress. Because those topics are separate from campaign-finance reform, separate conventions would be required.
PAUA takes no position on the aims of H.R. 206, but we support the right to seek a limited convention for proposing amendments under Article V.
But, however you want to restore the voice of everyday Americans in our representative democracy, we all will have a chance to discuss the best way forward this Thursday night. That is what makes our republic great: Americans working together.