State Politics

Idaho again skeptical of triggering convention to amend US Constitution

House State Affairs lawmakers Friday consider a resolution calling for a federal constitutional convention.
House State Affairs lawmakers Friday consider a resolution calling for a federal constitutional convention. csewell@idahostatesman.com

The Idaho House State Affairs Committee has rejected joining the call for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Committee members voted 10-5 Friday morning against sending a convention resolution to the House floor.

It’s far from the first time Idaho lawmakers have considered the idea. Article V of the Constitution allows state legislatures to band together to call for such a convention. In recent years, supporters have argued it’s a way to require a balanced federal budget or place other limits on federal power.

But the Constitution does not limit what a convention could focus on. That has been a red flag for many politicians who fear broader changes to the American system of government. Recent convention resolutions in Idaho have regularly been voted down as a result.

This year, groups such as United Vision for Idaho and the Three Percenters came together to protest the idea in January.

Friday’s vote followed two days of hearings on the bill sponsored by Rep. Tom Loertcher, R-Iona and State Affairs chairman.

Loertscher told his committee Friday that the process “has been physically exhausting for me because of the nature of the emotions that have been expressed on both sides.”

It was clear that a majority of the committee wasn’t on board.

“The power of the people is in the power of the vote, not in changing the Constitution,” said Rep. Christy Zito, R-Hammett.

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