Whether it passes or fails, HJR2, the constitutional amendment on the November ballot, will not change anything about the way state government operates. All it proposes to do is enshrine in the state constitution a practice that has been going on in Boise each winter for decades. That is the tedious but important job of reviewing the regulations passed by state agencies to execute the statutes passed by lawmakers.
Sometimes lawmakers leave the intricate details of state government to state agencies to figure out. Lawmakers may, for example, vote to create a new tax incentive program, as they did last legislative session. The details of how that program operates—what forms are filled out by participating companies and when—were left to the agency to determine through the rulemaking process. The Legislature will have a chance to decide whether the agency’s implementation is appropriate by accepting or rejecting the agency’s rules.
A review of agency rules provides an important check over the executive branch, one which the state Supreme Court validated in the 1990s. Used correctly, the review of agency rules is a safeguard against bad public policies that may otherwise supersede state law. It’s a good process. Voters will need to decide whether it is an important enough process to safeguard by inserting it into the Idaho Constitution.
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