Arizona gathering takes 1st step toward amending Constitution

Arizona hosted a convention with a goal to limit federal spending and possibly amend the U.S. Constitution.

It could be history in the making.

But history -- and our polarized present -- don't favor representatives from almost 20 states meeting at Arizona's Capitol this week to plan a so-called Article V Constitutional Convention.

The last time the states got together to tinker with the Constitution was 150 years ago. That went nowhere.

The plan this week at the Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention is to design a constitutional convention that would focus on just one thing: an amendment to force the federal government to spend only the money it has.

Can they do that to the Constitution?

"States always had the power to change the Constitution when it was necessary -- when citizens believed it was necessary," said Arizona State Sen. Nancy Barto, a Phoenix Republican.

Citizens get that power from Article V in the U.S. Constitution. It allows states to propose amendments to the Constitution.

But the goal of the weeklong Arizona gathering is modest: drafting rules for the next step of the process.

"We are not here to write language for a proposed amendment," said Oklahoma delegate Gary Banz.

Thirty-four states are needed just to get Congress to call for an Article V convention. Getting states to ratify a new amendment is an even bigger lift.

"There's no Republican or Democrat majority that's 38 states," said Sen. Marv Hagedorn of Idaho.

"So to ratify the amendment, you're going to have to get both parties on board."

The Arizona planning convention is all-Republican. There are Democratic-led states that support an Article V convention, but a balanced-budget amendment isn't their top issue.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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