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Uncovering America's methamphetamine history; PA Early Intervention programs vital for child development; measuring long-term impact of the O.J. Simpson trial on media literacy.

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President Biden's name could be left off the ballot in Alabama and Ohio, the Justice Dept. mandates background checks for gun show purchases, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds moves to allow state police to arrest undocumented migrants.

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Housing advocates fear rural low-income folks who live in aging USDA housing could be forced out, small towns are eligible for grants to enhance civic participation, and North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues.

Voting rights groups call constitutional convention efforts a threat to democracy

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Monday, January 22, 2024   

Lawmakers in Massachusetts are considering a resolution to convene a Convention of States, a process voting rights groups said could put civil liberties at risk.

Congress is required to hold a convention under Article V of the Constitution if two-thirds of state legislatures call for one.

Geoff Foster, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, said there are no rules in the Constitution for how to govern a convention and no guarantee, even the First Amendment, would be safe.

"There's great risk and great potential harm to everything already enshrined in our Constitution if we do open up this Pandora's box," Foster cautioned.

Foster pointed out a convention could potentially allow unelected delegates and special-interest groups to enshrine their agenda into a founding document. Supporters argued a convention is needed to rein in federal government spending and give more power back to the states.

Twenty-eight state legislatures have already petitioned Congress for a constitutional convention, with the majority calling for a balanced-budget amendment. Just six more states are needed to trigger the event.

Some states are pushing for term limits. California wants an amendment to ensure local governments can enact stronger gun safety laws.

Foster emphasized the problem is not the issues groups want addressed but rather the process of the convention itself.

"There are very deliberate efforts to undermine institutions of democracy, so this is not the time to test an unprecedented process to make changes," Foster asserted.

The state's Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs recently heard testimony on the Massachusetts resolution aiming to limit the federal government's jurisdiction and spending. Foster added he believes legislators in Massachusetts understand the risks associated with a constitutional convention and the prospects for a constitutional crisis.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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