The Idaho legislature has now passed Senate Joint Resolution 102.
SJR 102 would allow the Idaho legislature to call themselves back into session without the approval of the governor. 60% of each legislative body would have to agree to call themselves back into session for it to happen.
However, before SJR 102 becomes law, it must be approved by Idaho voters in November of 2022.
In order to change Idaho’s constitution, the legislature had to pass a “joint resolution” which needed a two-thirds approval in both chambers. During the legislative session, a lot of discussion surrounded what percentage of each legislative chamber should be required to agree to a special session.
Some legislators wanted the number to be a simple majority while other legislators wanted it to be three-fourths. A compromise of 60% is what ultimately won out on the proposed legislation.
The Idaho Senate passed SJR 102 on a vote of 24-11 with four Republicans voting against the measure. In the Idaho House, SJR 102 passed 54-15 with three Republicans voting against the measure. All Democrats in both chambers voted against SJR 102.
Idaho Dispatch reached out to several legislators who voted for SJR 102 and several who voted against SJR 102 to get their thoughts on the proposal moving forward to the voters of Idaho.
Sen. Chuck Winder (R-Boise), the primary sponsor of SJR 102 in the Senate, told Idaho Dispatch,
Idaho is one of only 14 states that cannot call itself into a special session of the legislature. Senate Joint Resolution 102 (SJR 102) will allow the Legislature, under restricted conditions, to call itself into Session to do the business of the people of Idaho.
The resolution will be on the ballot in 2022 for the people of Idaho to consider. The Legislature on rare occasions must react to conditions not known while in session. The long-term restrictions that we have all endured are examples. When large amounts of Federal funds come to the State of Idaho during the interim, the Legislature is constitutionally obligated to appropriate such funds.
No one person should be able to place long-term restrictions on the citizens of Idaho without the involvement of the peoples’ representatives and senators. When extreme emergencies happen, we need “all hands on deck” to deal with the crisis and to protect the rights of the citizens of Idaho against harm from government.
Idaho Dispatch also heard from Sen. Jim Woodward (R-Sagle) who voted against SJR 102. Here was his reasoning he sent to Idaho Dispatch for voting against the measure:
I believe there is great value in our citizen legislature. We work and live for nine months of the year under the laws we help create during the three-month session. This keeps us connected to our real lives in Idaho and to the implications of the laws.
The current system has worked well for more than one hundred years which makes me hesitant to veer from the historical path.
In addition to those two state senators, Idaho Dispatch had also sent inquiries to Sen. Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum), Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise), Rep. Jason Monks (R-Meridian), and Rep. Dustin Manwaring (R-Pocatello) but none of them have sent us a comment at this time. All of them, except for Monks, voted against SJR 102.
Do you believe the legislature should be able to call itself back into session with 60 percent of each legislative chamber agreeing to come back? Or should the current constitutional provisions be left alone?
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Tags: Chuck Winder, Dustin Manwaring, Ilana Rubel, Jason Monks, Jim Woodward, Michelle Stennett, SJR 102