State agencies looking to save money by closing their offices may soon be legally allowed to do so under a plan approved Tuesday in the full House. The bill’s sponsor is Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley.
The House bill now heads to the Senate for deliberation. The move comes shortly after the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) announced full-day closures every other Friday through the end of June. DHW originally announced half-day closures in January, but was forced to move to full-day closures after new budget numbers were announced. According to reports, DHW director Richard Armstrong’s office has remained open during the half-day closures and will remain open until Bedke’s bill is enacted into law.
Bedke’s bill contains an emergency clause which allows the measure to take effect as soon as it is signed by Gov. Butch Otter. DHW reports that the closures, furloughs, and a 5 percent pay cut in annual salaries will save the state more than $1 million.
Current state law says that state officers may only close their offices on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, though it does not offer specifics for which holidays offices should be closed. It also mandates that state offices be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on regular business days.
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