- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A Republican lawmaker on Tuesday called for Montana to join 24 other states in supporting a convention that would amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget.

Rep. Matthew Monforton of Bozeman introduced House Joint Resolution 4 in the Judiciary Committee, which did not take immediate action.

He said an amendment is needed to stop runaway spending by the federal government.

“Why I believe in this and so many others do … this is our last solution, our last chance to get control of the federal government,” he said.

It takes 34 states to trigger a convention. Thirty-eight states would then have to approve the change for the amendment to be put into effect.

Opponents argued that a convention could be used to rewrite many parts of the Constitution.

“Does anybody here today trust putting the fate of our Constitution in the hands of today’s politicians who are backed by corporate interests?” asked Ed Regan, a lifelong Republican.

Dan Happel of Pony said it’s a mistake to assume people have the wisdom to make constitutional changes.

Monforton said any attempt to stray from the convention’s purpose would be blocked.

He also said he thinks Montana’s balanced budget amendment works even if it sometimes means a good bill dies. Most states have balanced budget requirements with varying degrees of stringency, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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