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Boise State Public Radio News is here to keep you current on the news surrounding COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Idaho Senators Unveil Their Plans To Curb Executive Power During Emergencies

James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Senate Pro Temp Chuck Winder (R-Boise), seen here in this 2020 file photo. Winder introduced four pieces of legislation Wednesday to curb executive authority during an emergency.

State senators are closely mirroring the actions of the Idaho House, introducing their own set of bills to curb executive authority during a state of emergency.

Senate Pro Tem Chuck Winder (R-Boise) is sponsoring four pieces of legislation that would, among other things, put a cap of 30 days on any emergency declaration. That timeframe could only be extended by the legislature.

Another measure sponsored by Winder would prevent any governor from altering state laws during an emergency.

“The feeling here is that only the Idaho legislature, the people that [have been] elected to make laws, should be able to suspend or to alter those laws – even in times of emergency,” he said.

Each of his proposals were introduced Wednesday morning. House lawmakers introduced similar legislation Tuesday.

But Senate Majority Leader Kelly Anthon (R-Burley) warned against one effort from the House to simply end the current emergency declaration without conditions.

Lawmakers from both chambers have made it their top priority, even though lifting the declaration wouldn’t end mask mandates or virtual learning at public schools.

“The simple ending of the emergency declarations of the governor will not accomplish those things. It’s much more interwoven into our state code,” Anthon said.

State budget officials say up to $24 million in federal funding could be in jeopardy for local governments and school districts depending on how a declaration is extinguished.

Advocates of the Senate bills say their proposals would still allow for that money to flow in. Each piece of proposed legislation still requires a committee hearing before a vote in their respective chambers.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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