BOISE — On June 23, members of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, supported by 15 members of the Idaho House of Representatives met at the capitol to discuss restoring the Constitutional guarantee of the separation of powers found in Article II of the Idaho Constitution.
Following are excerpts from the ‘Proclamation of the 65th Legislature Sitting in Extraordinary Session’ issued June 22:
“The 65th Idaho Legislature, having sworn to uphold the Idaho Constitution, would be failing said oath, as well as failing its responsibilities to the citizens of Idaho, and
disregarding Constitutional responsibilities, if it did not immediately reconvene at an
Extraordinary Session to address the state of Idaho’s current Constitutional crisis including
violations of Idaho’s Separation of Powers provision.”
It went on to say the Legislature needs to reconvene to address topics related to Gov. Brad Little’s response to novel coronavirus COVID-19, including:
• The purported suspension by the Governor’s Office of Idaho Statutory Law
• The emergency occasioned by the Governor’s Office currently expanding the budgets
of the variously affected state departments, bureaus and institutions; and
• An emergency created by the immediate availability of the federal grant funds and the particulars regarding Idaho’s receipt and expenditure thereof.
However, without the minimum number of legislators needed to take votes or otherwise do business, their meeting ended in just over an hour. Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, recognized at the meeting that they could not make anything official with their limited numbers.
“This is not a session of the Legislature,” said Boyle to those present. “We do not have a quorum.”
Sen. Abby Lee, R-Fruitland, said participating in this demonstration would defy the oath of office, in her view.
“The special session that was called for by this activist group and only 15 of the 105 legislators, is illegal and unconstitutional,” said Lee in an email on June 24. “Anyone participating in this session would violate the Constitution and undermine the authority of the Idaho Legislature and office of the Governor. That’s why at the last minute ALL of those legislators who were sure they read the Constitution correctly, backed off on calling this a special session and instead just held a meeting to air their concerns. I’m concerned too, but in my opinion political grandstanding is not productive.”
In an email on June 25, Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth, pointed out that the movement did not have any visible support in the Senate.
“With only 15 House members, which is not a quorum, and zero senators, they apparently figured out they could not legally pass legislation,” he said.
Kerby says there are some key points he would focus on should a session be called in the future, including the issue of modifying elections in the Legislature’s absence.
“I hope the Gov doesn’t change it again for the general without a special session.”
He does, however, believe Gov. Little should have called on the Legislature for guidance at the onset of the pandemic.
“He should have called us back so the people would have had a voice in governance during the pandemic,” said Kerby. “I would have let restaurants, etc. open again April 15, instead of waiting until Phase 2, which happened in mid-May.”
Lee, however, said she believes Gov. Little has tried to do the right thing throughout the pandemic.
“I have concerns but I also balance those with support for the powers we have entrusted to the Governor through statute and the Constitution. In addition, the Governor has worked hard to balance freedom with a steady response to this public health emergency.”
As far as future treatment availability, Kerby said whether individuals take it or not should be left up to them to choose.
“People who want to take it will, others won’t. That’s why we live in America,” he said.
If Gov. Little were to call an extraordinary session, Kerby said he would bring up education funding for discussion.
“I would like to address the liability issue for schools and businesses, along with some funding flexibility and stability for schools.”
Kerby also said he would like to see clearer guidelines defined for future situations requiring action like during the pandemic, a sentiment echoed by several representatives in attendance at the Tuesday meeting.
Rep. Judy Boyle did not respond to requests by the Argus for comment.