by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
The House State Affairs Committee unanimously advanced a bill Tuesday which clarifies Idaho’s post-election audits must be conducted by hand.
“This will simply codify what has already been the practice and ensure we are clear about the expectations,” said bill sponsor Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot.
Secretary of State Phil McGrane attended the hearing in support of the bill, and confirmed to lawmakers that previous audits were done by hand under a directive from the previous Secretary of State Lawerence Denney.
Legislation establishing the post-election audits unanimously passed both chambers last year. The first audits were conducted by the Secretary of State’s Office after the May 2022 primary and November 2022 general election.
“We will likely see another bill come forward for some improvements just based on the experience,” McGrane told lawmakers.
The bill now moves to the full House for debate and a vote. Sen. Treg Bernt, R-Middleton, attended the hearing and told Idaho Reports he plans to carry the bill in the Senate.
Another avenue on personal bills
The State Affairs Committee is also considering tweaks to House procedures for personal bills, or legislation introduced early in the session by individual lawmakers rather than by a committee.
Under House Rule 6, Representatives can print bills outside of a committee until the 20th day of the legislative session. Those are traditionally filed away in the House Ways & Means Committee and do not receive a public hearing.
Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, presented legislation Tuesday that he says would eliminate the practice of introducing personal bills altogether.
“One of my primary concerns is simplicity when we create some of these bills. This resolution is specifically designed to alleviate some of the abuses we saw last year,” Barbieri said, referencing repeated attempts by hardline conservatives last session to call up a personal bill on grocery tax repeal.
The proposal appears as an alternative to legislation introduced last week in the same committee by Rep. Britt Raybould, R-Rexburg, which would limit the number personal bills a lawmaker can introduce, rename them as “informational” bills, and file them in the office of the House Clerk rather than a committee.
Barbieri said that political disagreements over committee chairs refusing to hear certain bills have become conflated with the House’s tradition of personal bills not being heard at all. He said he hopes that moving to a system in which only committees can print legislation would resolve that confusion.
The committee voted 8-4 to print the legislation. Resolutions to amend the House Rules do not need approval from the Senate or the Governor.