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Conservatives blow it on Article V convention

by Greg Belfrage

A bill to call a constitutional convention in order to pass a federal balanced budget amendment was killed in the state House yesterday. Lawmakers voted 42-28 against the effort. 

HJR 1004 was one of three bills dealing with an Article V constitutional convention. All three were defeated. A federal balanced budget amendment is an attempt by states to hold the federal government accountable for its reckless spending.

Amazingly, some of the harshest critics of the bill were conservative Republicans. Their arguments bordered on the ridiculous.

Rep. Stace Nelson, who is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, opposed the measure because Congress wouldn't follow it. He said South Dakota doesn't balance it's budget, even though it is required to do so.

"There is no magic in getting Congress to obey the Constitution," Nelson said.

Using that convoluted logic, state lawmakers shouldn't pass any bill because there will always be those who refuse to follow the law. If that's true, then we may as well shutter the country because there's absolutely no hope of change.

Rep. Dan Kaiser used the same argument, but went a step further. Incredibly, he blamed states. Kaiser said it's their fault for taking massive amounts of federal spending. However, I doubt Rep. Kaiser will ever be on the record opposing federal highway funds.

Read more: Roll call vote on HJR 1004

Democratic Rep. Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton was among those who voted in favor of a constitutional convention. Hunhoff is sounding more conservative this session than many of his colleagues from across the aisle.

One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Manny Steele, gave notice of intent to reconsider the vote at a later time.

If you believe a constitutional convention is needed to force a federal balanced budget amendment, get on the horn to your lawmakers pronto.

Twenty state legislatures have passed resolutions calling for a constitutional convention and federal balanced budget amendment. Thirty-four states are needed.

Will South Dakota be on the list? 

Don't hold your breath. 

Greg Belfrage is heard mornings 6am-9am on KELO Newstalk 1320 AM / 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com. Please follow him on Twitter.