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Senate republicans advance bill to rebalance power, end emergency declaration

Idaho Statehouse
Posted at 4:51 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 18:51:00-05

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Senate republicans advanced a bill to end COVID-19 emergency orders and rebalance power between the state's executive and legislative branches.

Members of the Senate State Affairs Committee voted to move Senate Concurrent Resolution 101 (SCR101) to the floor with a "do pass" recommendation, according to the Idaho Senate Majority Caucus. If passed, the bill would immediately end the current COVID-19 emergency orders from Gov. Brad Little. It would still keep the necessary federal funding available to Idaho's military, first responders, healthcare providers and community, according to the Senate Majority Caucus.

"The Senate majority caucus has been meeting with House majority leadership, as well as our caucus members, to review draft legislation and work toward building consensus on our mutual concerns,” Senate President Pro Tempore Chuck Winder said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the House of Representatives to collectively address these priorities quickly, but in the judicious manner our citizens deserve, careful to preserve access to disaster assistance when needed, whether for the pandemic or natural disasters.”

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.

Legislators are also working to pass a constitutional amendment that would allow the Legislature to call a special session, where currently only the governor can convene a special session.

Senate Republican goals still include any Idahoan who works being declared essential and limit the length of emergency declaration from the governor and emergency spending powers without legislature approval. Other priorities include:

  • To prohibit the quarantining of healthy individuals
  • To end orders prohibiting Idahoans from attending places of worship
  • To closely review the authority of the public health districts and local government subdivisions