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Constitutional Convention On the Table Again in Idaho

States have never called for a convention under Article V of the Constitution. (Chuck Coker/Flickr)
States have never called for a convention under Article V of the Constitution. (Chuck Coker/Flickr)
January 26, 2018

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho lawmakers are once again proposing joining 28 other states in the call for a Constitutional Convention.

On Thursday, legislators printed the bill that would allow states to convene a convention under Article Five of the Constitution once 34 states had signed on. Convention seekers want to add a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and with only six more states needed, groups are making a strong push in Idaho.

Thirty-eight states would need to agree to any proposed amendment for it to added to the Constitution.

But Adrienne Evans, executive director with United Vision for Idaho, says people are concerned across the political spectrum, because a convention wouldn't necessarily by constrained to a single subject.

"It's scary for anybody, right? So, your interests might be the First Amendment. Others' might be the Second Amendment. And the crux of this is that it all would be on the table," says Evans.

Last week, the group Convention of States rallied on the steps of the State Capitol in Boise to support this effort. It also has support from the conservative think tank, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Evans says a convention would be an opportunity for special interests to advance their agendas. She is also skeptical that a balanced budget amendment would be the only proposal on the table.

She points out that a convention isn't necessary to add amendments to the Constitution.

"This is our founding document, and there's absolutely a process by which we can make amendments to the Constitution,” she says. “What Article V calls for is something that's never happened in our nation's history, and that is to trigger a Constitutional Convention, the only one of which we've ever had was in the writing of the Constitution."

The same proposal to join convention-seeking states failed last session. However, over the summer, some Idaho lawmakers went to Arizona to participate in a practice Constitutional Convention.

Evans says constitutional lawyers still aren't sure how a convention would work, and rules such as the number of delegates from each state could be scrapped or changed at any time. At the bill printing Thursday, lawmakers said constituents want the hearings on this bill to be public.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID