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Senators seek balanced budget amendment

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Guest editorial by Damon Thayer

This week, the Senate passed legislation dealing with issues facing our federal budget deficit, the election recount process, and measures dealing with veterans and military service personnel.
This week, United States Senator Rand Paul testified before a meeting I chaired of the State and Local Government Committee. Later in the day, he addressed the full Senate and spoke of how public officials need to take action to rein in out-of-control government spending.
All but one state is required to balance its budget, and it’s time to require the same of the federal government. That’s why I was proud to support Senate Concurrent Resolution 134, which would make Kentucky the first state to petition Congress with specific proposals as part of a balanced-budget constitutional amendment. The proposed 28th Amendment would not only limit federal spending to annual revenues, but also prohibit tax increases or unfunded mandates on states. Those limits could be waived by a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress.
The plan also allows flexibility in times of war or military conflict. If passed by the House, the call would be forwarded to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House as well as legislative leaders in statehouses across the nation, requesting their participation. It would take 33 other states — for a total of two-thirds of all states — making similar requests before Congress would be forced to call a constitutional convention.
Once the convention is called and the exact language is drafted, it would take ratification by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states, 38 in all, to add it to the U.S. Constitution.
It is the hope of Sen. Paul and many of us who support SCR 134 that this action will strongly encourage the U.S. Congress to pass a federal balanced budget amendment.
Another bill passed by the Senate this week was Senate Bill 155. This legislation clarifies the rules for calling and then proceeding with election recounts. We’ve had a number of them in recent years. This bill will apply a uniform standard for the recanvass and recount process no matter where the election is held within Kentucky.
We also passed three bills relating to military issues. House Bill 122 will expand membership of the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs to the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court.
House Bill 173 exempts members of any branch of the United States Armed Forces based in Kentucky from having to obtain a license to engage in sport hunting or fishing on any military property belonging to the Commonwealth. House Bill 200 authorizes Kentucky’s Congressional Medal of Honor recipients to be honored permanently in the State Capitol Building.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you. I would urge you to contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line at (800) 372-7181 or by e-mailing me at damon.thayer@lrc.ky.gov.

Sen. Thayer represents the 17th Senate District, which includes southern Kenton County, and all of Grant, Owen and Scott counties.