Republican strength in state capitols offers the party a rare chance to pursue amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Here's a look at the procedures for proposing and ratifying amendments, as well as some prospective amendments.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution establishes two ways of proposing amendments.
The first: The U.S. House and Senate can by a two-thirds vote of each chamber refer an amendment to the states.
The second: Two-thirds of the state legislatures can request that Congress call a convention of the states to propose amendments. Although states have come close, this threshold has never been met.
No matter how they are proposed, constitutional amendments must be ratified by three-fourths of the states to take effect. Congress can determine the method of ratification — either by state legislatures or state conventions. The president and governors have no role in the process.
Unlike nearly all states, the federal government has no requirement to balance its budget. In the 1980s, states came just two shy of the two-thirds threshold needed to call for a convention on a balanced budget amendment before some states rescinded their resolutions. Congress also has come close to referring an amendment to the states, falling just one vote shy in the 1990s.
There currently are 28 states with resolutions calling for a convention on a balanced budget amendment, although they use a variety of terminology. Those states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
Supporters of a balanced budget amendment are targeting nine additional Republican-led legislatures. Those are in Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. They hope to reach or surpass the required threshold of 34 states in 2017.
Some states have begun pushing for a broader convention agenda, with resolutions calling for 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."
During the past three years, similar measures have been approved by eight states — Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
President-elect Donald Trump has pledged support for an amendment limiting congressional terms, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that's not on his chamber's agenda.