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Gov. Little sets date for Legislature’s special session — but only for these specific issues


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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little officially announced Wednesday that there will be a special legislative session starting Monday, Aug. 24.

Members of the state House and Senate, as well as Little and legislative leaders, will head to Boise to discuss issues like the coronavirus pandemic, the November election and other topics, such as liability reform during emergencies. The bills that will be considered during the session were outlined in the governor’s proclamation, which was made public on Wednesday.

“Special legislative sessions by their very nature are intended to deal with time-sensitive issues that require immediate legislative action and cannot wait until the general session in January,” Little said in a press release.

Idaho’s governor opted not to include two legislative proposals in his proclamation, one regarding the authority of public health districts and the other on education funding.

Little first said on Aug. 5 that he would call a special session to take place later in the month, following calls from fellow lawmakers to call the session.

Following Little’s announcement, the House Republican Caucus issued a statement in support of the session.

“We thank the governor for making this critical choice and thank our members for making it possible through their tireless efforts on the various interim working groups set in motion by Speaker of the House Scott Bedke and President Pro Tempore Brent Hill,” said Majority Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Megan Blanksma, R-Hammett, in the statement.

Among topics that will be discussed during the session, how the state will handle the November election will be a focus.

Earlier this month, the State Affairs Working Group met to discuss the upcoming elections. County clerks from Ada and Canyon addressed legislators and presented draft legislation to help with the elections, noting that the bills would make changes only to this year’s voting.

The draft bills would allow counties to consolidate polling centers, as officials anticipate fewer people will sign up to work the polls or want to vote in person. Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane said during the meeting that he believes around 75% of voters will request absentee ballots instead of going to polling places.

In late July, members of the House and Senate judiciary committees recommended a bill regarding liability issues that would protect schools from lawsuits if a coronavirus outbreak would occur on school grounds.

More recently, Republican members of the Education Working Group suggested lawmakers push to take away a health district’s ability to close schools. Little did not list this for the special session.

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