By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
The Idaho State Athletic Commission and the Idaho Division of Professional Licenses filed a petition with the Idaho Supreme Court earlier this month, claiming certain provisions of the state’s new rulemaking process are unconstitutional.
The petitioners take issue with HB 206, which passed the Legislature in March on party lines and went into effect on July 1. The agencies argue the new statute prevents state administrative agencies from promulgating and adopting enforceable administrative rules until those rules have been pre-approved by concurrent resolution of the legislature.
The state’s administrative rulemaking process is a long-debated topic in the Idaho Legislature. Lawmakers typically review existing agency rules at the beginning of each legislative session and approve them before adjourning for the year. However, they have neglected to reauthorize the body of rules since 2019.
Rules have the weight of law, but they do not require the same process as lawmaking. Executive agencies make rules to carry out the intent of the law, and those rules now require pre-approval from a legislative committee before taking effect.
Gov. Brad Little did not sign the bill in question, but did not veto it, so it went into effect without signature.
In his April 6 transmittal letter to the Speaker of the House, Little wrote, “Conditioning the enforceability of rules on legislative action runs afoul of constitutional separation of powers and threatens to undermine the negotiated rule making process.”
The petitioners argue the matter is time sensitive because the Idaho State Athletic Commission is currently operating without any enforceable rules. On April 6, the legislature adjourned sine die without approving the State Athletic Commission’s rules.
“The State Athletic Commission has no rules that have the force and effect of law, thereby prejudicing its ability to protect the public health, safety and welfare relating to competitions in Idaho,” according to the petition, filed Oct. 6.
According to Russell Barron, Administrator of the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses, the division is responsible for regulating more than 204,000 licenses within more than 48 boards and commissions, including the State Athletic Commission.
“The absence of rules published in the Idaho Administrative Code prejudices the State Athletic Commission’s ability to protect the public health, safety and welfare related to amateur and professional contests and licensures in Idaho through establishing standards of competency and qualifications for amateur and professional boxers, mixed martial arts, kickboxers, and wrestlers for licensing purposes; collecting fees without rules establishing the allowance of fees related to licensure; establishing medical requirements; establishing contractual and permitted obligations; and establishing codes of ethics and standards of practice,” Barron wrote in his declaration.
Brad Hunt, the Office of Administrative Rules Coordinator, filed his response in the case on Oct. 26.
“There are no disagreements on the material and ultimate facts that are at issue in this matter,” the response states. “Rather, the issues before this Court are questions of constitutional law. Respondents agree with Petitioners regarding the scope and significance of the legal questions that are before the Court in this matter.”
The Idaho Supreme Court granted oral arguments in the case for 9 a.m. Nov. 20.