Bill Description: Senate Bill 1068 would require the Legislature to adjourn by the last Friday in March and provides for certain exceptions.
Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability?
Senate Bill 1068 amends Section 67-404, Idaho Code, to state that "each regular legislative session shall adjourn sine die on or before 11:59 p.m. on the last Friday in March," and to provide for certain exceptions.
Exceptions include "for the sole purpose of addressing a gubernatorial veto or vetoes, or potential gubernatorial veto or vetoes"; "in the event of an unforeseen anomaly such as a disaster, emergency, or extreme peril"; or "if the legislature passes a concurrent resolution to extend the session that is approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the members in each house."
Shortening the regular legislative session might improve efficiency and even save a little money, but it is also likely to have other consequences that limit the public's access to the lawmaking process and reduce accountability and transparency.
Under normal circumstances, the path for a bill to be adopted is intentionally lengthy and deliberate, allowing legislators and the public time to read, consider, and weigh in on proposed legislation. Under a compressed timeline as proposed by Senate Bill 1068, these processes are likely to be disrupted and suspended (which can be done through procedural means), thus limiting or even denying meaningful public input.
Additionally, a shortened session will effectively transfer even more power to legislative leadership and committee chairs, who will be able to 'run out the clock' on legislation they oppose by denying it a hearing or possibly even a vote on the floor.