Legislative Inaction Means Idaho Governor Brad Little Can Renew Or Toss Thousands Of State Rules

Apr 18, 2019

Idaho Governor Brad Little will get to wade through 736 chapters of state rules spanning more than 8,000 pages and decide which to renew and which to let fade.
Credit Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

When the legislature adjourned last week, lawmakers left without approving a bill that renews thousands of rules governing the lives of Idaho citizens. Due to their inaction, the governor will now get to pick which rules stay and which ones go.

The bill the legislature left on the table was a fairly uncontroversial piece of legislation that approves 736 chapters of rules spanning more than 8,000 pages. Because they failed to act, Governor Brad Little will get to choose which of the regulations to renew and which to let expire.

“It is a unique opportunity that gives him a little bit more power and direct influence to see what rules and regulations he wants on the books,” says Jaclyn Kettler, a political science professor at Boise State.

She says the acrimony that characterized the legislature’s decision not to re-up the rules was indicative of how the session wound down.

“The last few weeks of the session I was constantly going, ‘Yeah, I never would’ve predicted this would’ve been an issue,’” Kettler says slightly mystified. “It was just kind of a bizarre session all around.”

As things stand, all 736 chapters of rules expire July 1. Only the items Little chooses to save will be temporarily renewed until the legislature reconvenes next year to make the final decision.

"We do know, from Governor Little’s executive order early on in the session, that there is some desire to reduce the number of regulations,” says Kettler. “So this is one opportunity to kind of review some of those on the books.”

Just what will happen when the legislature convenes next January and how they’ll handle approving the rules renewed by the governor is something of mystery lawmakers are still trying to figure out.

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