Idaho Legislature Adjourns 2021 Session—Finally

Idaho Legislature Adjourns 2021 Session—Finally

The legislature’s three-day extension of the 2021 season ended Wednesday with a great deal of bluster and pontificating. Still, in the end, with very little substance to show for the special meeting, many of them insisted upon. Fortunately, all of the bills passed by the House amid rancor and rhetoric met their demise in the Senate.

More than 30 bills, most of them dealing with pushing back against federal vaccine mandates, were introduced and fast-tracked to the House floor with minimal time to read them, much less analyze them and give the public a reasonable opportunity to comment. Only a “joint memorial” critical of the federal mandates had passed when the two chambers finally adjourned. House Republicans have vowed to bring back similar legislation when they reconvene for the 2022 session on January 10.

“We are pleased that cooler heads prevailed and that any impending legislation will be heard at the proper time and place,” said IEA President Layne McInelly. “The extended session has been costly for Idaho taxpayers and runs counter to the intent of the state constitution, which did not envision or desire a full-time legislature.”

As the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board points out, the three-days legislators were in Boise cost the state about $90,000, or roughly $173.41 per word of the joint memorial. Officially the 2021 legislative session ran for 311 days, by far the longest in state history.

Legislators failed to take up a spending bill that would have allowed the state to accept $6 million in federal grant money to bolster pre-K opportunities. Also failing to gain traction was a proposal to utilize unspent COVID-19 relief funds to provide a $1,000 bonus for all educators and establish a sick leave bank for COVID-19 testing, quarantine, and recovery.

Here is coverage and analysis from reporters who cover the legislature regularly.

Clark Corbin in the Idaho Capital Sun.

Kevin Richert, Idaho Education News.

Betsy Russell and Ryan Suppe of the Idaho Press and Brain Holmes and Joe Parris of KTVB.

Censure of Rep. Priscilla Giddings is Official

The House voted 49-19 to accept the report of the Ethics Committee, which recommended censure for Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird. As a result, Giddings has been removed from her House Commerce and Human Resources Committee position. However, she will retain her assignment on the prestigious Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee. The action against Giddings stems from her public identification of the victim in a sexual assault case against former Representative Aaron Von Ehlinger, which resulted in Von Ehlinger resigning just before the House was set to vote on his expulsion. The Ethics Committee investigation also found that Giddings lied under oath during the Von Ehlinger hearing.

Giddings remained defiant during this week’s hearing, continuing to obfuscate, even referring to hearing military training that prepared her to be evasive when being questioned by an “enemy” and said she considers herself a “political prisoner.” Reps Adams, Barbieri, Boyle, Christensen, Ehardt, Ferch, Gestrin, Holtzclaw, Kingsley, Mendive, Moon, Nichols, Okuniewicz, Scott, Wisniewski, and Young, in addition to Giddings herself, voted against accepting the Ethics Committee report.

Look for the next IEA Hotline in early January in advance of the 2022 State of the State Address and legislative session.

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