Former Governor Otter argues against initiative to allow legislature to call special sessions

Otter says it will lead to full time legislature
Idaho Statehouse
Posted at 3:52 PM, Nov 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-04 12:58:59-04

Idaho is one of only 14 states where the governor has exclusive rights to call a legislative special session.

So, what would happen if Idaho joined the vast majority of states by approving constitutional amendment 102?

Former Governor Butch Otter says Idaho would almost resemble California. "They started out a part-time legislature and they're now a full-time legislature. And that's the risk we're running if 102 passes," says Otter.

But only 10 states in the U.S. have full-time legislatures. And proponents of 102 say Idaho won't change.

"I don’t think there's anyone in the legislature that wants a full-time legislature,” argues State Senator Chuck Winder, “We all have jobs and families and it's a real sacrifice for the men and women who serve in the legislature to come to Boise.”

Winder says Governor Little's conduct during the coronavirus pandemic is the main reason to request a change. “I think that obviously precipitated a lot of the concerns the public voiced to us,” says Winder.

36 states allow their legislature to call itself back for a special session, including Wyoming and Montana. Still, former Governor Otter says 'give the Idaho Legislature an inch and they will take a mile.' “Well I would tell them my experience in 12 years I was governor, it wasn't unusual for 2 or 3 legislators to come in every year for 12 years and say we need a special session." Explains Otter.

If passed, a special session would require 60 percent approval in both houses, far different than a couple of random legislators begging the governor for a favor.

So, the decision is up to the voters.