Bill Description: House Bill 67 makes it so school boards — and not cities or health districts — have the authority to close schools to prevent the spread of contagious or infectious diseases.
Analyst Note: House Bill 67 is one of several pieces of legislation introduced during the 2021 session to change how emergencies are handled in Idaho.
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?
Under current Idaho law, a number of government entities — including the Department of Health and Welfare, district boards of health, and cities — have the power to close schools in the name of preventing the spread of contagious or infectious diseases.
House Bill 67 amends Section 33-512, Idaho Code, and adds Section 33-212, Idaho Code, to change this situation by allowing only the governor, the state board of education, or local school boards (and charter school boards of directors) to take such action, although it must be done "based on consultation with the district health department of the public health district in which the school district is located."
This change is an important step toward returning authority to elected bodies rather than to unelected agencies and boards. It could be improved upon, however, by giving the authority exclusively to local school boards and excluding the governor and the state board of education.