By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
In its first meeting Tuesday, the House State Affairs Committee introduced a bill to implement a rule change to prevent legislators from repeatedly trying to call a piece of legislation back to the floor.
The bill comes after former Rep. Ron Nate and allies spent much of the 2022 legislative session trying to call back a personal bill to eliminate the grocery tax to the House floor using the rule, bypassing a committee hearing.
Rep. Britt Raybould, R-Rexburg, introduced the amended change to House Rule 6. There would also be smaller changes to Rules 8, 10 and 17 to comply with the potential changes to Rule 6, should the bill pass.
Raybould, who defeated Nate in the May primary, explained the bill would also put a cap on how many personal bills a legislator may introduce. The committee amended the number from two to three personal bills per legislative session. A personal bill is introduced by an individual legislator, rather than a group of legislators in a committee.
Raybould said she believed it was a disservice to the public to bypass full legislative hearings.
Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, took issue with the legislation because committee chairmen have the authority to not hear a bill in committee.
“What you really get are someone that represents a district, that may not be Eastern Idaho, that may not be Northern Idaho, that may be a chairman from Downtown Boise and so they are making decisions that they don’t like your idea or your citizens’ idea and refuse to hear them,” Scott said.
Scott supported Nate’s efforts last year to repeatedly bring back his personal bill.
“This bill is drafted intentionally to be narrow to focus on this specific issue,” Raybould said in response. “I would anticipate that if there was interest in pursuing the hearing of all committee bills that it should go through the rule change process as well.”
Chairman Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, co-sponsored the legislation. During discussion, he referenced last session’s repeated attempts to bring back a grocery tax personal bill from the House Ways and Means Committee.
“You and I agree on the charade that happened last session and it was wrong and it was misleading to the public,” Crane said during discussion. “Government is confusing for individuals already and it’s my desire to make this be more a transparent and easy to understand process.”
The bill will now go before the full House of Representatives before a vote.