Gov. Little Statesman

Under Idaho’s current constitution, only the governor can call a special session. The House voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the power to convene itself. The amendment will now move to the Senate and must be approved by a majority of Idaho voters.

The Idaho House of Representatives voted largely along party lines Thursday to pass a constitutional amendment that would let the Legislature call itself into a special session without the permission of the governor.

House Joint Resolution 1 passed 51-18, with most Republicans voting in favor and House Democrats, including District 26 delegates Rep. Muffy Davis, D-Ketchum, and Sally Toone, D-Gooding, voting against.

The proposed constitutional amendment, introduced last week by Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian, would let the Legislature call itself into a special session with the approval of 60 percent of House and Senate members. Under Idaho’s current constitution, only the governor can call a special session.

Gov. Brad Little called the Legislature into a three-day special session in August. Discussion during the session was limited to elections and civil liability during COVID-19, two topics chosen by the governor.

Some Republican lawmakers have criticized Little for his approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that the Legislature should have had a greater say in how Idaho responded to the public health crisis and how federal emergency funding was distributed by the state.

To amend the Constitution, a measure must be passed by two-thirds of both legislative bodies—House and Senate—and must be approved by a majority of Idaho voters. Since HJR 1 passed the House with more than two-thirds approval, it will now go to the Senate for consideration.

Email the writer: gkauffman@mtexpress.com

Load comments