Idaho Gov. Brad Little said Wednesday that he’s been talking with state legislators who want him to call a special session of the Legislature, but the Idaho Constitution requires such sessions to be called on a specific subject – and none of them have offered him one.
Little, who said he was just on a call with the entire House and Senate that morning, and met on Tuesday with both lawmakers and members of legislative leadership, said, “I have yet to get the Legislature to say, ‘We want a special session for this issue.’ They want to have a special session for a lot of different issues. And frankly, I’ve said I’m not opposed to a special session – you tell me what the issue is.”
The Idaho Constitution, in Article IV, Section 9, says, “The governor may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the legislature by proclamation, stating the purposes for which he has convened it; but when so convened it shall have no power to legislate on any subjects other than those specified in the proclamation.”
Little said there are “probably three things that come to the top:” Plans for the November election; what to do about the January legislative session if the virus is still spreading “and they don’t want to meet;” and a more complex issue involving civil liability and COVID-19.
“But the founders of our Constitution specified special sessions will only be called by the governor, and they’ll be called by the governor for a specific purpose,” he said.
On Tuesday, 15 House Republicans, who had been called on by the Idaho Freedom Foundation and an unregistered political action committee called the Freedom Man PAC to attempt to call themselves into session and pass legislation, based on a legal opinion the Freedom Foundation commissioned from an Arizona law firm, held a gathering in the House chamber, but took no votes and attempted no action. Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, explained that the gathering wasn’t a session of the Legislature because the group lacked a quorum, which would require a majority of the House and Senate.
Urged on by a boisterous crowd of supporters in the gallery, many of whom were armed, the lawmakers aired grievances about Little’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, calling Little a “self-appointed tyrant” and Boyle declaring, “He’s usurped our power.”
Little was asked about a special session by a caller from Idaho County named Jenny, during his weekly statewide call-in about the state’s coronavirus response with AARP Idaho. You can read my full story here at idahopress.com (no paywall on coronavirus stories, so access is free – but please consider subscribing and supporting our work!), or pick up tomorrow’s Idaho Press; it’ll be on the front page.