Several lawmakers from Idaho are in Arizona taking part in a historic gathering.
This is the first time since the Civil War era that states are coming together to discuss amending the U.S. Constitution. According to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, states can legally propose and pass amendments. Lawmakers from around the country are trying to figure out what that would look like.
“Across the nation you have a national movement. People feel that Congress is a little out of control that the debt is completely out of control, and that America is really in economic peril,” Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, said.
Eight lawmakers from Idaho, including Perry, are at the meeting in Arizona along with representatives from 21 other states. They’re trying to put together a framework should they be able to call for an Article V constitutional convention in the future.
“Should an Article V convention be called, that it's going to be based on a single subject. There are rumors running amok discussing about how, should an Article V convention be called, that it would be a runaway convention and anybody can do anything to the Constitution,” Perry said.
Perry says that’s not the intent. Lawmakers meeting now just want to focus on creating a constitutional amendment that would require a balanced federal budget.
“So Idaho can actually participate in the rulemaking process that would govern that convention at least at its beginning,” Perry said.
The path to an Article V constitutional convention has already been paved because 27 states have signed a resolution asking Congress to call such a convention. Idaho has not yet sent such a resolution to Congress, but Perry says you should expect to hear that debated during the next legislative session.
“Part of the reticence from Idaho is really the understanding, what are the rules of a convention going to be are. And that's why our leadership from both the House and the Senate sent their delegation down here to Arizona,” Perry said.
Thirty-four states are needed in order for Congress to call for a constitutional convention.
Any rules or framework decided in Arizona also must be approved by all the states, if an Article V constitutional convention is held.
“We have never had an Article V convention,” University of Idaho associate law professor Shaakirrah Sanders said.
Any amendment decided on in the constitutional convention must be ratified by the states.
“To approve any amendment to the U.S Constitution you need three-quarters of U.S. states. So that's about 38 states,” Sanders said.
It’s an issue that appears to be gaining momentum.
“I think there's going to be another big push nationwide this year in the legislatures in the upcoming session to get this resolution passed,” Perry said.
Sanders says the hard part of all of this is there’s never been an Article V constitutional convention, so there’s no statutes or case law Congress or states can go back and look at to see how one would be conducted.