Idaho House Waits For Senate Tweaks To Rules Compromise

Jan 14, 2020

The Idaho House and Senate seem to have hit a snag. They haven’t figured out a compromise over how the legislature adopts rules that underpin every facet of state government.

Last year, the House refused to sign off on a routine bill reauthorizing thousands of pages of administrative rules on everything from vaccination requirements to hunting fees. It wants more of a say in how these regulations get adopted.

For example, in 2018 a House committee removed some references to climate change in a set of new science standards public schools would have to follow. But a similar committee in the Senate rejected the House’s edits and the standards went into effect unchanged.

House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) said both chambers need to have a voice in the matter.

“The House is not going to support a going home bill that includes stuff that [the Senate has] rejected or that includes stuff that has not been heard, regardless if the rule gets changed or not,” Bedke said.

The decision to punt on reauthorizing these regulations kicked off months of public hearings to temporarily revive each and every rule, which is how the state is operating now. Gov. Brad Little then cut or simplified 75% of Idaho’s regulations, characterizing the unexpected opportunity as a victory.

Just before the legislative session began, Bedke said he and the Senate had reached a compromise on how to handle these rules, which was supposed to be announced last week.

No deal has been reached yet, leading some to question whether Idaho state government will operate under temporary rules again next year.

“The thought has crossed my mind,” Bedke said, noting that he’s still hopeful some kind of agreement can be reached.

Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill (R-Rexburg) says his caucus is still discussing any potential deal.

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