Idaho is days away from the 2021 Legislative Session, and with new health and safety protocols in place this time around, officials hope everything will run smoothly.
When it comes to actual bills being discussed in the coming weeks, the public can expect a wide range of topics.
According to Speaker Scott Bedke, when we spoke about two weeks ago, he told Idaho New 6 the first order of business at the 2021 Legislative Session is rebalancing power between legislative and executive branches of government, particularly when it comes to disaster declarations.
"During the disaster declaration, we feel that the legislature should be dealt in on an official capacity," Bedke said. "The legislative branch of the government feels as if [the legislative branch] was left it out this summer, and nearly all of the decisions were made by the executive branch."
Rep. Brent Crane says he believes the executive branch would argue and say it was within their power, given the authority designated through a statute, which is true, but he also feels power should be rebalanced.
The government system has never been tested as it was in August, Bedke and Crane both said.
Beyond looking deeper into the Governor's emergency authority, Crane says he expects other bills to address schools, health districts, and businesses' ability to remain open or function during an emergency declaration.
"I'm actually bringing legislation forward to provide a business bill of rights that says as a business owner these are your rights, and you can operate a business in whatever fashion you want to when it comes to an emergency. There's going to be a lot of debate around that," Crane said.
People will be able to testify virtually, which could increase the geographic diversity of those testifying. Both Bedke and Crane say this is one of the most important sessions to take place.
"We are going to get the business of the state done. We are going to do our best to get back to normal as possible, and we're here to make sure that our state is leading the way in recovery from this pandemic issue," Crane said.
The 2021 Legislative Session begins on January 11th.