Gem State Roundup

Set of three emergency powers bills awaits Idaho Senate approval

By: - May 4, 2021 2:17 pm

House Assistant Majority Leader Jason A. Monks (R, Meridian) at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

With no debate, the Idaho House of Representatives passed three bills that separate what legislators called the “key components” of two previous bills that would have limited an Idaho governor’s authority during a declared emergency. Hours later, the Senate State Affairs Committee approved sending the three bills to the Senate floor to be considered on Wednesday.

Little called House Bill 135 and Senate Bill 1136 “just plain irresponsible” and vetoed both of them on April 16. He said provisions in both bills, such as limiting the length of time for a disaster declaration without approval from the Legislature, would limit the state, as well as cities and counties in the case of earthquakes, power grid failures, flooding and fires. 

The new bills, which are similar to the legislation Little already vetoed, address three topics:

  • House Bill 391 clarifies constitutional rights cannot be changed or limited as a result of an emergency declaration
  • House Bill 392 changes Idaho Code to read that only state rules can be changed during an emergency, not regulations or laws
  • House Bill 393 states all jobs are essential, and any restrictions on job performance must be “narrowly tailored” and cannot apply to an entire classification of jobs.

“If you have a flood and a flood area and you need to close off or coordinate an area (in an emergency), that can be done,” said Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian. “But what you can’t do is say, ‘All jewelers are non-essential, and therefore all jewelers across the state are out of work.’”

The House managed to override Little’s veto of House Bill 135, but the effort was unsuccessful in the Senate. An attempt to override Little’s veto on Senate Bill 1136 also failed in the Senate

The Senate will now consider the three separate emergency powers bills.

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Kelcie Moseley-Morris
Kelcie Moseley-Morris

Kelcie Moseley-Morris is an award-winning journalist who has covered many topics across Idaho since 2011. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and a master’s degree in public administration from Boise State University. Moseley-Morris started her journalism career at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, followed by the Lewiston Tribune and the Idaho Press.