Idaho House Republicans are wasting no time in trying to fulfill their top priority this legislative session: cutting a governor’s authority during an emergency.
The House State Affairs Committee unanimously introduced three pieces of legislation yesterday to do just that.
“It’s legislation that’s the attempt to help restore some balance that we have between the legislative branch and the executive branch,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jason Monks (R-Meridian).
In some cases, Monks said these laws have been on the books for decades.
“We beta tested some of those laws this last year, because realistically, these were sometimes the first times they were really stress tested and we found, I think, flaws in them and this is an attempt to address some of those flaws,” he said.
Monks’ bill would limit emergency declarations to 30 days and classify all jobs as essential. It would also prevent a governor from changing state law during an emergency, like when Gov. Brad Little required the May primary to be conducted solely through absentee ballots.
A proposed constitutional amendment from Rep. Steven Harris (R-Meridian) would allow the legislature to call itself back into session if 60% of the body agrees. The third proposal by Rep. Heather Scott (R-Blanchard) would revoke the coronavirus emergency declaration immediately.
State budget officials Monday said lifting the declaration could jeopardize up to $24 million, depending on how it could apply to local governments and school districts.
Members of the public hoping to testify on these bills will be allowed to do so virtually, House State Affairs Chairman Brent Crane (R-Nampa) said Tuesday morning. The committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday, but an agenda wasn’t immediately available Tuesday afternoon.
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