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Eye On Boise

Senate votes down call for Article V convention to add balanced budget amendment to U.S. Constitution

After two hours of debate that stretched through the lunch hour, the Idaho Senate has resoundingly rejected SCR 108, the measure calling for Idaho to petition for an Article V convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to add a balanced budget amendment. The vote: 11-24.

Here’s how the vote broke down:

Voting in favor: Sens. Agenbroad, Anthon, Hagedorn, Hill, Lakey, Lodge, Mortimer, Rice, Siddoway, Souza, and Thayn.

Voting against: Sens. Bair, Bayer, Brackett, Buckner-Webb, Burgoyne, Crabtree, Davis, DenHartog, Foreman, Guthrie, Harris, Heider, Johnson, Jordan, Keough, Lee, Martin, Nonini, Nye, Patrick, Stennett, Vick, Ward-Engelking, and Winder.

Post Register reporter Bryan Clark writes about the debate here; here’s a full report from the Associated Press:

Idaho Senate kills call to demand balanced federal budget

By Kimberlee Kruesi

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Senate on Wednesday killed a proposal calling for a constitutional amendment to limit federal government spending power.

With Republicans controlling the majority of state legislatures across the country, Idaho had become a prime target to become the 30th state to call for a convention of states to propose a federal balanced budget requirement.

Either 34 states or two-thirds of both houses of Congress can call for a constitutional amendment. Thirty-eight states have to approve amendments.

Backers of the resolution argue that every state except Vermont has some sort of balanced budget requirement and that the federal government should be held to the same standard.

"We are addicted to spending and that's going to affect every person in this room one way or another," said Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, the bill's sponsor. "We are either going to control our addiction or it will be controlled for us."

Senators spent nearly three hours debating the topic, taking turns pushing the need to rein in the growing federal debt or warning that a convention could veer off into hot-button social issues, although there is no current talk of using a convention to ban issues such as gay marriage or abortion.

In addition, there is no guarantee that states would follow the same rules when they send delegates to a convention, said Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett.

"The founding fathers did phenomenal work in creating this lasting governing document and I don't consider it a wise move to cut it up, especially considering the polarized political climate we are living in," Stennett said.

The Senate eventually voted 24-11 to kill the bill.

The U.S. Constitution has only been amended 27 times since it was ratified in 1788.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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