Montana resolution seeking Article V Convention tabled

Blair Miller

(Dail Montanan) A resolution that would make Montana the 20th state to propose an Article V convention to amend the U.S. Constitution is likely dead after it failed in the Senate’s third reading on Wednesday.

The Senate got 25:25 into the final vote on Senate Joint Resolution 2, a day after the measure narrowly passed the second reading at 26:24 on Tuesday. Sen. Ellie Boldman, D-Missoula, switched her voice for the final passage.

The resolution would have added Montana to the list of states whose lawmakers have agreed to ask Congress to convene a state convention to propose amendments to the constitution.

The alternative amendment procedure has never been used before, and the procedure by which a convention would work is still open to interpretation, according to people who testified at last month’s Committee on Measures hearing and lawmakers who did week to speak.

In the final vote, 10 Republicans along with 15 Democrats voted against the bill, while 24 Republicans and one Democrat, Sen. Ryan Lynch, D-Butte, voted in favor of the resolution.

On Tuesday, during the Senate’s second reading of the resolution, lawmakers spent more than an hour debating the measure. Sponsor Senator Tom McGillvray, R-Billings, made several impassioned speeches about the growing national debt, which was his main reason for presenting the bill for a second straight session.

During the Resolutions Committee hearing on Jan. 18, supporters of the resolution, including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, said efforts, funded in the past by groups like the Koch brothers, are aimed at three things — getting Congress through it a balanced federal budget, term limits for Congress and the federal government, and limitations on the powers of the federal government.

On Tuesday, during the debate on the resolution, Senator Becky Beard, R-Elliston, reminded the chamber that she and other citizens voted for Congress and said she wondered why anyone would want to add more amendments to the constitution when no one voted consider the first place. She voted against the resolution.

Senator Bob Brown, R-Trout Creek, said there was a risk in passing the resolution because it was unknown what would actually happen at a convention. He said he felt Congress was playing “political games” with the process and wondered if other states would comply with the changes Montana was seeking.

Boldman didn’t immediately return a message Thursday asking for comment on why she changed her voice.

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