BISMARCK â€“ North Dakota lawmakers who want to do their part to help control the nationâ€™s debt had their first hearing Wednesday.
A group of lawmakers wants the Legislature to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that states an increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the nationâ€™s state legislatures.
â€œThe debt that weâ€™re seeing right now is just horrific, and one party can point to the other and both are guilty. Weâ€™ve all done this to ourselves,â€ said Rep. Blair Thoreson, R-Fargo.
The nationâ€™s debt of more than $14 trillion equates to more than $45,000 per citizen and $126,000 per taxpayer, Sen. Curtis Olafson, R-Edinburg, said.
â€œThe debt is dangerously close to where I feel that it is a serious, an imminent threat to our very sovereignty as a nation,â€ Olafson said. â€œWe have to find some way to get this debt under control.â€
Neither changing members of Congress nor changing the political party in charge has solved the problem of the increasing debt, he said.
â€œThe system has to be changed. The rules have to be changed,â€ Olafson said.
If approved, Senate Concurrent Resolution 4007 states North Dakota favors a convention to be called for the federal debt constitutional amendment.
Article V of the Constitution states Congress shall call a convention for proposing amendments upon application of two-thirds of the nationâ€™s legislatures.
A proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution when ratified by three-fourths, or 38, of the state legislatures, according to Article V. Congress may also allow ratification by conventions in three-fourths of states.
No one testified against the resolution on Wednesday, but other lawmakers have previously called the proposal â€œa long shotâ€ and problematic.
Sen. Margaret Sitte, R-Bismarck, said she agrees with the premise of the resolution. However, she has concerns about the convention establishing its own rules.
Limiting the federal debt means either cutting government programs or having states picking up the costs, she said.
Olafson became involved in the federal debt issue after being contacted by Dallas-based RestoringFreedom.Org. He said it is not a partisan movement since the federal debt is not a partisan issue.
â€œWe must act now. A runaway Article V convention is a myth. A runaway $14 trillion debt is a reality,â€ Olafson said.
The committee did not act on the resolution Wednesday.