Saundra Lapsley has been active in local government and now wants to channel her interest in the state and national level.
Lapsley, who lives a mile east of Pilot Point and was a mayor of a small town in Oklahoma, is active in the Convention of States movement. She and other activists have organized a meeting for Saturday in Aubrey.
The meeting will provide information about the process in Article V of the U.S. Constitution that requires a convention for proposing constitutional amendments to be called if two-thirds of the states vote to do so. It will be held from 10:15-11:30 a.m. at the Aubrey Area Library.
Lapsley said she got involved in the movement because she wants to see the country change direction.
“I was concerned about the state of the nation and I had watched it go downhill,” she said. “I didn’t know as much as I’ve come to learn until becoming involved in the Convention of States (such as) exactly what some of the reasons were that we were in the financial state that we seem to be in and with the regulatory overreach that seemed to be occurring everywhere. They weren’t lining up with what I knew of the Constitution and what would be appropriate.”
At the Saturday meeting, Lapsley will give a presentation on the Convention of States and, depending on the audience, she will decide how in-depth the presentation will be.
The group says eight states have voted to call the amendment convention and that the Texas Legislature will examine legislation to call an Article V convention when the lawmakers convene in the 85th legislative session early this year. The organization’s resolution does not recommend amendments; rather, it calls on items be considered for reform, with those being fiscal responsibility of the federal government, scope and jurisdiction of the federal government and term limits for federal officials, said Tamara Colbert, state director for the Convention of States.
Lapsley said she studied early 20th century presidential administrations – Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson – and the 16th and 17th Amendments, the first of which concerns Congress’ ability to levy income taxes without apportionment among the states or basing it on census. The 17th Amendment revolves around the election of U.S. senators being decided by the popular election of the people of the states.
She said she thought too many contemporary changes are occurring that are giving the federal government too much power and that the checks-and-balance paradigm is going astray from its original intent. States should not be dependent on the federal government to get money for various needs and the federal government should be limited to certain expenses such as military and coining of money, she said.
“The federal government’s role is supposed to be limited and it’s not supposed to be the moneybags for the states,” she said.
Lapsley said she heard Colbert on the radio in the Metroplex one day and decided to check out the organization. She signed their petition and decided to become involved. She has been involved with the group a little over a year.
Colbert said the Convention of States project seeks to allow people to have a conversation with fellow citizens. The group’s main aim centers on ultimately calling a convention of states under Article V of the Constitution.
“Number one, it gives an opportunity to elevate a constitutional discussion that our nation hasn’t had in over 200 years,” Colbert said during an interview last week at The Post-Signal. “Number two, it gives us an opportunity, regardless of party, to get together to say what do we want for Texas, what do we want our nation to be? And thirdly, it really reminds our state legislators they’re the boss, not the 535 members on Capitol Hill and those nine Supreme Court justices and our president. The federal government was born from the states, not the other way around.”
Lapsley said the group does not concentrate on one particular goal or initiative.
“I would like to see term limits for the judiciary personally,” Lapsley said. “The group itself does not support one amendment over the other. That’s a personal opinion of mine.”
The Convention of States has more than 100,000 members in Texas and House District 106 has around 600, Lapsley said. The group is in every state in the nation.
Lapsley said she “absolutely” envisions a constitutional convention soon, and that momentum exists from the number of states that have already passed resolutions.
“We need 34 states to pass the resolution to call a convention, and they will get together and discuss what they might consider and vote for whatever they want to pass and then [it] goes out to states for ratification or not,” she said. “So it might be a long process before any of this comes about.”
Convention of States will have a state meeting from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Capitol in Austin, according to its website.