Lawmakers look for power to call themselves into special sessions. Here's how the votes fell.

Idaho Statehouse
Posted at 1:58 PM, Nov 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-09 16:48:31-05

IDAHO — According to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, SJR 102 which looks to amend the Idaho Constitution to allow the legislature to call itself into a special session is on track to pass.

With about 97.7% of the counties reporting in Idaho, 52% of the votes are in favor of this constitutional amendment, while 47% are against it, so far.

Kootenai County has seen a delay in the ballot-counting process and only 98.6% of the precincts are reporting from that county, so the results from the Coeur d'Alene area are still pending,

Related: Kootenai County sees holdup in unofficial election results

Idaho’s constitution currently allows only Gov. Brad Little the power to call lawmakers back into a special session and the Gem State is one of only 14 states where the governor has exclusive rights to call a legislative special session.

But, with the passage of SJR 102, Idaho will join the other state 36 states that allow their legislature to call itself back for a special session, including Wyoming and Montana.

In order for a special session to be called under this amendment, it would require 60% percent approval in both houses.

In a statement, Little says, “I am committed to working closely with the Legislature to keep doing the work of the people efficiently and transparently. For many important reasons, special sessions should still be restricted to extraordinary situations that cannot wait for the regular session. The people of Idaho passed SJR 102 allowing the Legislature to call itself back into session for any reason, and I am hopeful legislators will take very seriously their new powers and limit their legislative work as much as possible to the regular session annually. We will continue to work together to follow the will of the people.”

House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel (D) says changing the constitution like this moves the Legislature is a risky and potentially costly move.

“I fear the citizens of Idaho will regret this outcome,” Rubel said.

Rubel says it's at least $30,000 dollars a day when lawmakers are in session, but that price could go up as inflation continues to increase.

“I thought this was a very poorly drafted designed amendment because it only required a 60% threshold for legislators. Presumably, the only reason the legislature would be coming in is because the governor does not want us coming in because of course the governor could call us in on his own,” Rubel said.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Chuck Winder (R) was a big proponent of SJR 102 and says circumstances like a pandemic or natural disaster could be reasons why the legislature would need to call itself back for an extraordinary session.

To me, it’s a separation of powers, between the three branches of government,” Winder said. “The legislature should not be at the mercy of the executive branch or here, in this case, the governor’s office”

To view the results from election night, click here.