The Idaho Legislature finally adjourned sine die Wednesday – officially the 311th day of session – after passing a single common memorial.
You should read the entire memorial produced by these three days of noise and fury.
As you read, take a look at the third word in the 14th line: “the”.
This word cost you about $ 173.41. Just like the one that came before him, the one that followed him and all the other words in the memorial. It typically costs around $ 30,000 to run the Legislature for one day, and the end product of the three-day reconvened session was this 519-word exercise.
In the Idaho Legislature, speaking doesn’t come cheap.
But more than money was lost during the session of doing nothing.
The real cost of this resumed November session is not measured in dollars, but in broken standards and precedents.
Until this year, the Legislative Assembly met for approximately three months at the beginning of each year and then returned home.
Every year there are conflicts – that is quite simply the nature of any legislative body. Each year, some problems go unresolved and a significant number of legislators are dissatisfied. Many want to continue the session.
But until this year, both houses of the Legislature had finally decided it was time to cut the bait on the remaining issues and come back next year.
And on very rare occasions, the governor will recall the legislature to deal with a specific issue that cannot wait. This limitation is an essential control of the power of the legislative power.
But this year the House, and in particular the Republican leadership, failed to end the regular session as they should. In a move that was never considered by the drafters of the Idaho Constitution, the House simply decided to recess, meaning lawmakers were inevitable to return to Capitol Hill. And the opinion of an attorney general said the Senate – which had properly adjourned – would likely have to come back if the House does.
Make no mistake: the ground is now fertile for Idaho to move on to a permanent legislative body.
Even House Speaker Scott Bedke R-Oakley conceded to this drafting committee last week that in future sessions lawmakers would likely use this technique of pausing indefinitely so they can recall in session – without the restrictions imposed on them if recalled in extraordinary session by the governor.
Now is not the time to expand the powers of the legislature, but to master them. The legislature has spoken out against anything it perceives to be overtaken by the governor, the federal government, business, the courts – everyone but himself. He has, time and time again, passed laws he said were unconstitutional, only to lose court challenges – as you might expect – and waste tons of money and time along the way.
It is the GOP-dominated legislature, more than any other part of the Idaho government, that needs checks and balances today.
So take this as an early warning: Voters should absolutely reject the proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2022 ballot that would allow the legislature to reconvene. What would Idaho have in store if this constitutional amendment passes? Just what we got a taste of this week – a waste of taxpayer time and money.
The Conservatives loved digging deep into federal budgets to find someone who paid $ 100 for a hammer, clear proof of the government’s waste. The legislature just spent $ 173.41 on the word “the”.
Statesman Editorials are the unsigned opinion expressing consensus of the Idaho Statesman Editorial Board. Board members are Opinion Writer Scott McIntosh, Opinion Writer Bryan Clark, Editor Chadd Cripe, Associate Editor Jim Keyser, Newsroom Editor Dana Oland and Members from the community JJ Saldaña and Christy Perry.