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Legislators push to rebalance power between Idaho's executive, legislative branches

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Posted at 4:24 PM, Jan 12, 2021

BOISE — One of the main topics in this session will be rebalancing powers between Idaho's executive and legislative branches.

Speaker Scott Bedke, who previously spoke with Idaho News 6, said the legislative branch of Idaho's government feels it was left out of the decision process during this summer's special session, and the executive branch made most decisions.

One bill presented in house state affairs Tuesday could change how emergency declarations are handled in a disaster situation, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

If passed, it would require that all working people are considered essential, meaning businesses would be able to remain open.

"One of the most important things we did in this legislation is to determine that everyone who is working is essential," Rep. Jason Monks said. "So that nobody is non-essential and that your job doesn't count, and that's what this legislation does. It makes sure everybody who's working, providing for themselves or for their families or contributing to the economy, your job is essential."

Other legislation presented would end the emergency declarations associated with COVID-19 if passed.

Another would limit an emergency declaration to only 30 days, enabling the legislative branch to be involved in any process to extend the emergency.

"People want their representative government to be involved in the process, and this allows us to be involved in the process again. This is not a criticism or a critique on anything that's happened. Let's improve and make it better, and that's what this is. It's an attempt to make the process with emergencies better," Monks said.

Monks said all of the rights guaranteed in the constitution, specifically to worship, would be protected.

So far, Monks said he expects the bill to be well received and he's received a lot of emails and recommendations.

Idaho News 6 is requesting that communication with lawmakers related to the topic.