IEA Hotline—January 22, 2021
Little Pushes Back on Legislative Efforts to Overturn Emergency Declaration
In the most forceful language of his gubernatorial term, Idaho Governor Brad Little criticized efforts by the legislature to half his emergency declaration on COVID-19. “The legislature is playing politics and the losers of this shameful game would Idaho citizens,” Little said in a televised statement Friday. He noted that the state stands to lose tens of millions of dollars in federal funding without the emergency declaration, which would severely jeopardize the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and extend the pandemic. Governor Little called on Idahoans to contact legislators and urge them “not to take away one of our strongest tools to end the pandemic.”
“Because the potential loss of resources would have devastating consequences for our state, and because a timely rollout of the vaccine is the most effective way to get our public education system back to normal operations statewide, the Idaho Education Association supports the Governor’s position,” says IEA President Layne McInelly.
Text of the governor’s remarks can be found here.
The Idaho House Republican Caucus issued the following statement in response. “Members of the House Republican Caucus will continue to work to address the concerns of the Idaho families whom they represent. The inflammatory comments from the Governor’s office do nothing but complicate the process. The life-altering concerns revolving around the COVID-19 emergency continue to be in the front of our minds. Our members are working on various forms of legislation to help the state on its road to the recovery that Idahoans have been demanding for months and we call on the Governor to work with us in this process.”
Special Session Resolution Adopted by House
The House has adopted HJR 001, which would enable the legislature to call itself back in for a special emergency session with a 60% majority. Currently, only the governor can convene a special session. Governor Little called the legislature back this summer for a special session focused on liability immunity related to COVID-19.
House Introduces Bill to Replenish Legal Defense Fund
This week the House introduced a bill that would move $4 million into its Legal Defense Fund. The move comes as the legislature faces legal action over allegations that it is not doing enough to provide a safe environment in its chambers, particularly for potential violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. This fund is separate from the Constitutional Defense Fund, which has paid out millions of dollars in recent years in defending legislation that was deemed unconstitutional. Read more in this story from Boise State Public Radio.