by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
SJR 102, the constitutional amendment which would allow lawmakers to independently call the Legislature back into special session without relying on a call from the governor, needs a simple majority to pass on the Tuesday general election ballot.
Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder and Idaho Democratic Party Chair Rep. Lauren Necochea joined Idaho Reports on Oct. 21 to discuss the pros and cons of the constitutional amendment.
Lawmakers passed the measure in 2021 to place it before Idaho voters on the next general election ballot.
“It really, we think, oversteps the bounds of what the Legislature should be doing, in that they should be the policy-making body,” Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry President Alex LaBeau told the Idaho Statesman last month. “But when it comes to the actual executive function of the delivering of services from the state or making executive decisions, that should be exclusively within the governor’s office.”
The Idaho Capital Sun reports that the Idaho Prosperity Fund, a PAC affiliated with IACI, is spending nearly $70,000 on advertising against the amendment.
“SJR 102 corrects Idaho’s historic error and puts the legislative and executive powers on equal footing,” Idaho GOP Chairwoman Dorothy Moon wrote in a statement on Wednesday in support of the measure. She pointed out that Idaho is one of thirteen states where lawmakers don’t have the ability to call themselves back into session.
Moon also called IACI “a lobbying firm that wants to advance the interests of big banks, taxpayer subsidized multinational corporations, and Facebook” over regular Idahoans, and criticized the business lobby’s involvement.
Statement on Constitutional Amendment SJR 102
“Simply put, more legislative activity equals more government meddling,” former Gov. Butch Otter wrote earlier this week, coming out against the amendment. “The least regulated states – like Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota – have truly part-time citizen legislators. They are everyday people who come to the Capitol to represent their districts on a limited basis and crank out the people’s work in a transparent, open process.”
Former Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter:
Vote against big government — vote “no” on SJR 102
“The Idaho Legislature conducted a test-run of their idea last year,” former Republican state officials Ben Ysursa, Bruce Newcomb and Jim Jones opined in an October column arguing against the constitutional change. “Granting the governor the exclusive right to call special sessions was one element of the concept of governmental checks and balances, which was of paramount importance to the framers. They would not have dreamed of giving the Legislature the power to call itself into session,” they wrote.
The trio also pointed out that the Legislature used to meet every other year until a constitutional amendment in 1968, and the state’s founders considered scheduling legislative sessions every three years.
Ben Ysursa, Bruce Newcomb and Jim Jones:
Voters should reject the SJR 102 legislative power grab
“Gov. Brad Little’s actions during the Covid pandemic revealed weaknesses in the separation of powers in Idaho’s government,” Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, wrote for the Idaho Freedom Foundation on Thursday. He joined the group as a senior policy fellow in June after losing his seat in the spring Republican primary. “Other examples of the governor’s overreach could be given, but the point is very simple: giving the Legislature the power to call themselves into session provides power to ‘check’ a governor who usurps duties normally reserved for the Legislature.”
Idaho Freedom Foundation:
What SJR 102 would do for Idaho and why it’s on your ballot
On election day, Nov. 8, the Idaho Reports team will follow the results on SJR 102 in addition to congressional, statewide, and legislative races. Join us for a live blog with coverage and analysis when results start rolling in at 9 p.m. Mountain Time, 8 p.m. Pacific Time.
In addition to local and statewide candidates on Tuesday, Idaho voters will see an advisory question on the ballot asking whether they approve or disapprove of the legislature’s actions during its September special session. That measure is advisory only, with no binding policy effect, but could guide the priorities of the newly elected Legislature in January. The advisory question should not be confused with constitutional amendment SJR 102.
Logan Finney | Associate Producer
Logan Finney is a North Idaho native with a passion for media production and boring government meetings. He grew up skiing, hunting and hiking in the mountains of Bonner County and has maintained a lifelong interest in the state’s geography, history and politics. Logan joined the Idaho Reports team in 2020 as a legislative session intern and stayed to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. He was hired as an associate producer in 2021 and they haven’t been able to get rid of him since.