Bill Description: House Bill 16 renames and redefines disaster emergencies and limits the governor's power during such times.
Analyst Note: House Bill 16 is one of several pieces of legislation introduced during the 2021 session to change how emergency situations are handled and to shift power from the executive branch to the legislative branch during such times. House Bill 16 is a direct replacement for House Bill 1.
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
House Bill 16 amends Section 46-1008, Idaho Code, to limit the reasons for which the governor may issue executive orders or proclamations during a state of disaster emergency.
Specifically, the new language requires “the orders or proclamations must be essential to protect life or property from the occurrence or imminent threat of the state of disaster emergency. Such orders and proclamations must not restrict the right of Idahoans to work, provide for their families, and otherwise contribute to the economy of Idaho."
House Bill 16 amends Section 46-1008, Idaho Code, to limit the length of a "declared state of disaster emergency" to no longer than 30 days and explicitly states, "The governor may not circumvent the thirty (30) day limitation by redeclaring successive states of disaster emergency in the absence of an extension by the legislature."
House Bill 16 amends Section 46-1008, Idaho Code, to grant the Legislature expanded power to "modify, terminate, or extend the state of disaster emergency" and to "extend the state of disaster emergency for any number of days." The exercise of these powers is contingent on the Legislature being in regular or extraordinary session.
While shifting emergency power from the executive branch to the legislative branch may be a net positive, allowing for a state of disaster emergency to continue for any number of days still represents a troubling open-ended grant of expanded state power over the lives and property of individuals. Amending this line to a specific number, say "for up to 60 days" or even for a longer but still defined period, would be a significant improvement over the status quo and this legislation.
House Bill 16 amends Section 46-1008, Idaho Code, to clarify that protections related to the right to keep and bear arms, which apply during a state of disaster emergency, also apply to firearm and ammunition manufacturers. Additionally, this bill declares that a state of disaster emergency cannot be used as a pretext to "limit or suspend any rights guaranteed by the United States constitution or constitution of the state of Idaho, including but not limited to the right to peaceable assembly or free exercise of religion."
It clarifies that "During any state of disaster emergency, the governor may not alter, adjust, or suspend any provision of the Idaho Code."