Laying the Foundation
While the Special Session kicked off Monday morning, the foundation was laid by our members’ tireless efforts throughout the summer. Various interim working groups set in motion by Speaker of the House Scott Bedke and President Pro Tempore Brent Hill set the table for the critical policy-making done this week. Their service ensured that the entire Legislature could get right to work Monday morning.
Peace of Mind
Our members are providing peace of mind for Idahoans, churches, colleges, universities, and businesses, by making those entities immune to liability from damages for transmission of COVID-19. House Bill 0006 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 54-15 on Wednesday. It was later approved by the Senate and signed by the Governor on Thursday. This measure does not extend immunity to state or federal government agencies and not to bad actors who engage in reckless or willful conduct. This is also not tied to an emergency declaration.
“This is a balanced common-sense approach to protecting the pursuit of justice, while also eliminating the specter of a potential lawsuit for individuals who are just trying to live their lives,” said bill sponsor Rep. Julianne Young.
The bill goes into effect immediately with a sunset clause in July.
Protecting Your Voting Rights
The Idaho House Republican Caucus is protecting your right to vote in-person this November. House Bill 0001 ensures that voters have the opportunity to cast their ballot in-person regardless of a state of emergency, extreme emergency, or disaster emergency.
Our Caucus is also making sure your absentee ballot is counted, and done so quickly. Our members voted for Senate Bill 1001, which allows for more time for county clerks to process the huge amount of absentee ballots requested. This bill was signed by the Governor, and is now in effect. It also has a sunset clause, so it will only affect November’s election.
“One [bill] assures Idahoans that there will always be a place in the county to vote in person and that’s very important to a lot of people,” said Speaker of the House Scott Bedke. “And then two, if you do want to vote by absentee, then you will have a streamlined process that should be no fuss, no muss.”
House Bill 0001 is on the Governor’s desk and if signed, would go into effect immediately.
Senate Misses Opportunity
The Idaho Legislature accomplished a lot this Special Session, but we could’ve done even more. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted 48-20 in favor of House Concurrent Resolution 0001, which would’ve ended the existing state of disaster emergency. It would not have impacted CARES Act funding. However, the Idaho Senate chose to not take it up, killing it for this Session.
We believe our friends in the Senate missed an opportunity to help this state move forward, but we are not done. This is a legitimate roadblock on Idaho’s path to recovery, and we will fix this in January during the Regular Session.
Thank You, Idaho State Police
To the Idaho State Police, and especially the officers who restored order at the Idaho Statehouse numerous times this week, Thank You.
ISP Officers do extraordinary work every session to protect the people’s house, Idaho’s elected officials, and the Legislative process. While you were faced with incredible challenges this Special Session, you rose to the occasion, along with Capitol Security and Boise Police.
A small group of agitators tried to stand in the way of us conducting the people’s business. By putting your own safety at risk, you removed those committed to derailing a deliberate process while also helping to ensure the opportunity for peaceful citizens to exercise their first amendment rights and make their voices heard.
Idahoans trust us to represent them and work for their best interests. In order to do that, we must trust you to protect us, the Statehouse, and most importantly, the proceedings of our free and fair government. Once again, you have proven that there is no one more worthy of that trust.
As we look to the Regular Session, we hope we can complete our tasks without similar distractions. But if there are, we know you will restore the order that is promised in our democratic Republic.