Now that we are in the season for ghosts and goblins, read SJR 102 if you really want to see something scary. This is the proposed amendment to the Idaho Constitution granting legislators the power to call themselves back into session at any time of the year with only a 60% affirmative vote. No matter your political persuasion, you should VOTE NO on this amendment for three basic reasons:
1. SJR 102 would upend more than 130 years of legislative precedent and destabilize Idaho’s system of checks and balances on power. This amendment is not necessary because the Governor may call the Legislature into a special session when deemed prudent, which has been the case throughout the state’s history. Of the 36 states that do allow legislatures to convene special sessions, most require at least a two-thirds supermajority (67% or more), and Idaho is proposing only 60%.
2. Idaho needs to retain the established timeline of its annual legislative sessions so its citizens and businesses may evaluate and advise legislators of the effects of their proposals. The ability of the Legislature to convene itself into various special sessions would increase the likelihood of passing legislation that has not been properly vetted with affected parties. Thorough public review and engagement tends to improve legislation, which would be at risk with passage of SJR 102.
3. Idahoans do not want a full-time legislature made up of career politicians. The proposed amendment does not limit the number of special sessions the Idaho Legislature could call or limit their length. Idaho should not move towards having a full-time legislature, and we should not burden legislators who have other careers with the prospect of more time in Boise.
Unfortunately, many in our state Legislature have spent time grandstanding and pushing unconstitutional legislation rather than focusing on the needs of our citizens. As a result, we see longer and longer sessions. The ability to call themselves into special session would only exacerbate this issue. They could continue to waste taxpayer time and money during the “regular” session and simply ram through bills in special sessions later.
We’ve seen how our current Legislature operates. The last few sessions have been frustrating, time-consuming and expensive. The last thing we need is for the Legislature to give itself permission to essentially become a year-round body.
This should be an easy decision for all voters. Protect Idaho’s citizen Legislature and vote no on SJR 102.
Jan Brown is the state committee woman for the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.