House panel OKs changes to bill trimming governor’s powers
Keith Ridler, Associated Press
BOISE (AP) — A House panel on Tuesday approved Senate changes to a bill trimming a governor’s powers during declared emergencies while increasing the Legislature’s power.
The House State Affairs Committee approved two modest changes to the bill made in the Senate as the two chambers seek to significantly reform how Idaho government functions during emergencies. Lawmakers are taking aim at rules intended to stem the pandemic, like limiting gatherings and nonessential travel, as well as a governor’s authority during localized natural disasters such as wildfires and floods.
Republican Rep. Jason Monks told his colleagues on the House panel that the changes made in the Senate were small and left the intent of the bill unchanged.
“The amendments aren’t actually too terrible,” he said.
Another bill already sent to the governor targets a governor’s emergency powers during human-made events, such as a terrorist attack.
The bill approved by the House panel on Tuesday now goes to the full House and, if approved, will also go to the governor. Lawmakers have said they expect the governor to veto both bills, likely leading to override attempts in both chambers.
The two bills each allow a governor to declare an emergency and extend it past 60 days, but only to ensure federal funding continues. Both bills would require any restrictions accompanying a governor’s order to expire after 60 days unless renewed by the Legislature.
The bills would also prevent a governor from imposing some restrictions during an emergency. A governor’s emergency order couldn’t prevent people from going to work or gathering, including for religious services. An order also couldn’t quarantine healthy people.