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The Utah House called Tuesday for a convention of the states to write and consider new amendments to the U.S. Constitution with supporters saying that is the only way to rein in an out-of-control federal government.
It passed HJR8 on a 41-32 vote, and sent it to the Senate.
It calls for a convention that would consider amendments "to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress."
"We're seeing our government destroyed in front of our eyes," said Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, sponsor of the bill.
"We see a court that is now weighing in and deciding what rights are instead of being an umpire," a Congress that constantly deepens the national debt and "we see a president who is legislating with a pen and pad" through executive orders, Ivory said.
Critics worried it could turn into a runaway convention, and potentially entirely rewrite the existing Constitution.
But Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, said the convention "cannot run away. It is limited in scope by the call for the convention, by the resolutions," and noted that any amendments it passes must be ratified by three-fourths of the states. "It takes only 13 states to defeat whatever is proposed by this convention."
The U.S. Constitution allows for a convention of the states to propose constitutional amendments as long 34 states submit similar applications. Ivory said seven other states have passed such resolutions so far.
A state constitutional convention has never been called. All amendments to the Constitution to date have come via a different method: being passed by two-thirds votes in both chambers of Congress, and ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures.