BOISE, Idaho — Governor Brad Little issued a proclamation Wednesday outlining issues to be considered during a special legislative session. The session is set to start on August 24. The COVID-19 pandemic in Idaho is set to be addressed during the session, including election law changes needed in order to have a safe and secure November election.
“We are ready to get to work on safeguarding a free and fair election, one of the major underpinnings of our Republic. It is our duty to protect the votes of every Idahoan, and that is exactly what will happen. We are also ready to work on options for protecting Idaho’s schools and businesses,” said Majority Caucus Chair Representative Megan Blanksma.
The proclamation also calls for the Legislature to establish temporary and consistent standards for civil liability related to the coronavirus. The standards will help the local economy recover while encouraging planning, care and safety in response to the pandemic. More information on the bills to be considered can be found here.
Representative Melissa Wintrow expressed her disappointment in the Governor’s special session proclamation in an emailed statement.
“A special session of the Idaho legislature could have been a valuable tool early on in the coronavirus pandemic. However, the proposed legislation does not address many of the serious challenges that our state is currently facing.” Rep. Wintrow said. “Idaho Democrats are talking to voters all over the state and we are hearing that our communities need accessible coronavirus testing with faster results, increased funding to education to keep our children safe, meaningful property tax relief, and the resources to get our economy back on track. I appreciate that we may take steps to make voting in the upcoming election safer, but it’s disappointing that we are leaving everything else off the table. The special session will not make our communities safer and there are no proposals to help employees and businesses make ends meet in an economic crisis.”
Today I issued a proclamation that calls for a special legislative session to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Idaho, including election law changes that are needed in order to facilitate a safe and secure November election during the pandemic. https://t.co/z9mlJqMXwC pic.twitter.com/baBjrmirkm— Brad Little (@GovernorLittle) August 19, 2020
The topics for the special session are recommended by the Idaho Legislature after working groups identified the topics and recommended them to Gov. Little for consideration. The Idaho Constitution gives the Governor authority to call a special legislative session and the Governor is required to specify the subjects for consideration. By law, special legislative sessions are of limited duration.
“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,” said Gov. Little.
According to a news release, Gov. Little chose not to include two proposals in the proclamation. The first related to public health district authorities and the second was on education funding. The Governor said more discussion on both topics is deserved, and public discourse will happen during the general session in January. The release stated the topics do not need immediate action by the Legislature right now.
Gov. Little said "the valuable advice and counsel of public health officials should continue to inform school officials’ decisions on safe school operations during the pandemic."
“We owe it to taxpayers to pull off a swift and successful special legislative session. I appreciate the work our legislators put into the proposals for a special session and for their willingness to come to Boise next week and address these issues on behalf of the people we serve,” Governor Little said.