The Idaho Education Association has filed suit against the State of Idaho, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna challenging the constitutionality of Senate Bill 1108 and related trailer bills. The bills, enacted this past legislative session, wrongly curtail the rights of teachers, the IEA and its local education associations.
The suit was filed in state district court in Ada County. Joining the IEA as plaintiffs and representatives of thousands of Idaho teachers are three IEA locals (Fremont Education Association, Caldwell Education Association and Shoshone Education Association) and two Idaho school teachers, David Graham (a junior high art teacher in the Moscow School District) and Teena Marley (a kindergarten teacher in the Pocatello School District).
“Because the Legislature, Governor Otter and State Superintendent Luna failed to listen to the voices of Idaho citizens and, in the case of SB 1108 and the trailer bills, overstepped their legal bounds, the IEA supports citizen efforts to place referenda on the ballot challenging the Luna laws,” said Sherri Wood, IEA President. “Likewise, we will challenge the constitutionality of SB 1108 and the trailer bills.”
The IEA’s lawsuit contains four claims:
- First, it alleges that the state and state officials, in enacting SB 1108 and the trailer bills, violated Idaho’s state constitutional requirement that legislation pertain only to a single subject, rather than mixing different subjects into a single bill.
- Second, SB 1108 violates the state constitution by impairing existing and vested contractual obligations to teachers by repealing the Early Retirement Incentive Program for public school educators.
- Third and fourth, SB 1108 and the trailer bills impair existing contractual obligations by mandating that all collective bargaining agreements between school districts and local education associations expire by June 30, prohibiting “continuation” or “evergreen” clauses in those contracts, and retroactively nullifying provisions in collective bargaining agreements that were lawful and enforceable prior to SB 1108 and the trailer bills’ enactment.
The lawsuit seeks judicial declarations and injunctions barring the state and state officials from enforcing and implementing the laws.
“It is the duty of the courts to determine whether laws satisfy constitutional requirements. We believe that SB 1108 and the related legislation fall well short of that mark. As such, we will be asking the courts to weigh in expeditiously on the legal issues presented by the complaint,” said John Rumel, IEA General Counsel, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case.