Currently, the Idaho governor can already call the Legislature to an extraordinary or special session, outside of the annual regular sessions, for the narrow purpose of one topic needing to be resolved that cannot be delayed to the next regular session. It is rarely necessary to convene for more than a day or two. The debate, public input and legislative process in a special session has limited public scrutiny.
A proposed constitutional amendment would allow the Legislature to call itself into a special session with approval of 60% of the Senate and the House of Representatives, but the language is vague about why and what topic, saying only, “…specifying the subjects to be considered” and does not limit the length of the special session. Notice that many subjects could be considered, not the current single topic, which could create lengthy or recurrent sessions that could more properly and robustly be debated in a regular session. This encourages a full-time Legislature and more political grandstanding. The cost to taxpayers to convene the Legislature is around $35,000 per day and should not be frivolously abused. According to the governor, Utah passed a similar amendment and has met seven times in a year.
The rarely used advisory question on the ballot this November asks the voters to give their opinion, approve or disapprove, of the governor’s and Legislature’s actions, House Bill 1, during the last special session on Sept. 1, 2022. Sounds good, right? However, an advisory question is nonbinding, has no teeth, gives voters no power or benefits, and is unnecessary. It is just a pat on the back.