- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma Legislature gave final approval on Tuesday to a resolution formally asking Congress to call a national convention to consider adding a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Senate voted 30-16 to approve the House-backed joint resolution despite concerns of some members that a national convention could be expanded to consider issues beyond the federal budget.

The Florida-based Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force, which specifically targeted Oklahoma and six other states this year to push the measure, says Oklahoma is now the 29th state to petition Congress. The U.S. Constitution requires two-thirds of the 50 states, or 34, to request a national assembly to draft amendments.

“Oklahoma was key,” said Sen. Rob Standridge, a Republican from Norman who has pushed a similar resolution for four years amid bipartisan opposition. “You’ve got several significant groups that oppose it.”

Some of the fiercest opposition to the proposal came from fellow Republicans, who fear that national convention could get hijacked by those who want to weaken existing constitutional protections.

“We can’t foresee what will happen. There could be harm that comes from this,” said Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow. “We have a problem with the people representing us, not with the Constitution itself.”

Under Article V of the Constitution, adding an amendment can be done via a two-thirds vote of Congress and then ratification by three-fourths of states, or 38. That’s the way all the current constitutional amendments came about.

There is also a second option under which two-thirds of the states, or 34, would have to request Congress to call for a national assembly to draft amendments. Any amendments would subsequently have to be ratified by at least 38 states to go into effect.

Standridge said the growing national debt is among the nation’s most pressing problems and that there is little evidence that Congress is willing or able to fix the problem.

“This is what the founders gave us in the Constitution to correct those very errors,” Standridge said. “If we’re not willing to do that, then our grandchildren and children will face the consequences, in my opinion.”

Because the measure is a joint resolution, and not a bill, it becomes effective without the governor’s signature.

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Senate Joint Resolution 4: https://bit.ly/1WBXHkv

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This story has been corrected to indicate that Oklahoma is the 29th state to petition Congress, not the 28th

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