The Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee Wednesday rejected a measure that would have catapulted Idaho into the national debate over amending the U.S. Constitution. Senate Bill 1289 would have authorized Idaho to participate in a national convention to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and would have also established the guidelines and criteria for selecting state delegates to such a convention.
“I was disappointed that we couldn’t get it out of committee this year,” Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Boise, told IdahoReporter.com. The chair of the committee, McKenzie believes “it’s an important issue for Idaho because other states have called for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment.”
According to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, there are two pathways to amending the U.S. Constitution. One is initiated through the U.S. Congress itself, where two-thirds of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate agree on amendments, followed by ratification of those amendments by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states.
The other approach begins at the state level, where the legislatures of two-thirds of the individual states ask Congress to call “a convention for proposing amendments.” In this scenario, states would send delegates to this convention to propose amendments, after which the legislatures of three-fourths of the states would have to ratify any amendments approved by the convention, either by a vote of the legislatures or through special ratifying conventions
Last December state legislators from across the country gathered at President George Washington’s historic Mount Vernon estate to discuss the possibility of a convention to propose amendments. For the past three years, McKenzie has proposed bills regarding both the subject matter for a convention and, procedurally, how Idaho would select delegates for a convention.
Some state legislators in Idaho and elsewhere attribute “The Liberty Amendments,” a best-selling book from author, attorney, constitutional scholar and talk show host Mark Levin as providing inspiration for a convention.
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