TALLAHASSEE – Tallahassee native, W. Spider Webb Jr., hopes a spark started in the Florida legislature will light a fire across the nation. He hopes this fire will ultimately cleanse the federal government of pork barrel spending and cronyism and make U.S. history in the process.
Webb has called for an Article V Convention to approve a federal single subject amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In 2014 a proposal from state Sen. Wilton Simpson calling for an Article V Convention for this purpose earned approval from both the Florida House and Florida Senate. The following year, a Congressional Joint resolution was introduced in the U. S. House of Representatives by Congressman Tom Marino, also supporting the amendment.
The catalyst for this idea began when Webb, a former lobbyist, looked at his life after retirement and pondered what to do next. Over his professional career, he had noted that 41 of the state legislatures had single subject provisions in their constitutions and that the U.S. Constitution did not. Those provisions insured any legislation passed must deal with only one subject or it will be repealed. They mandated any bill coming before the legislature was not weighed down with unrelated riders or amendments which probably wouldn’t pass otherwise on their own.
Webb believed the federal government desperately needs such a provision.
“The system is totally broken in Washington,” Webb said, “and I know nothing happens in Washington unless someone makes it happen. As I thought about what I wanted to do the rest of my life, I thought maybe I’m the person to step up to the plate.”
Webb said this federal single subject provision “would have a profound and positive impact on how Congress does business.”
“It would improve the way Americans view Congress because it would have such a positive impact on the way they enact legislation,” he said. “It would improve the way Congress conducts business and therefore, the way Americans view Congress. It would provide opportunities for both parties to come together and do something that’s legitimate.”
According to Webb’s Single Subject Amendment Super PAC website, two-thirds of the state legislatures can convene an Article V Convention to propose an amendment, which, to be adopted, must be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures or state conventions. An Article V Convention method completely bypasses all of the federal government, and, specifically, Congress.
Alternately, Congress can propose an amendment to the U. S. Constitution but to be adopted it must be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures or state conventions.
Webb is not holding his breath that Congress would take such action. However, he believes that just the threat of an Article V Convention, could get Congress to act.
Webb said now that the elections are over, his PAC will begin contacting sponsors in each of the states to call for the Article V Convention.
He said, “It is possible before the end of 2017, 34 states would pass this legislation, but it is not probable. It is also possible Congress would propose the amendment on its own before the end of 2017. Then ratification of the amendment would have to go forward.”
He expects that process to go fairly quickly because 38 states would have to ratify the proposed amendment.
He said, “Recognizing that 41 state constitutions have it, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
Webb said, “In little ole Tallahassee, the state legislature, for the first time in the history of our country, has asked for an Article V Convention to propose a single subject provision. It’s never been done in the history of our country. Since 1787 over 750 applications have gone to Congress to convene an Article V Convention, but the threshold has never been met of two-thirds of the state’s asking for a convention on a particular subject.”
He continued, “We can’t find where Congress has ever proposed this amendment.”
“This is our effort. We are bonefide. We are credentialed, because we have a bill in Congress and a state legislature that has passed our bill. We’re the real thing,” he said.
Adamantly, Webb concluded, “At some point in time its gonna happen because when we get national publicity I think this could get legs and run.”