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Senate Bill 1239 — Legislature, adjournment

Senate Bill 1239 — Legislature, adjournment

Parrish Miller
January 27, 2022

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1239 would require the Legislature to adjourn by the last Friday in March; it provides for certain exceptions.

Rating: -1

Amendment Analysis: The Amendment to Senate Bill 1239 does not change the rating or substantively change the analysis.

Analyst Note: Senate Bill 1239 is very similar to Senate Bill 1068 from 2021.

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 1239 amends Section 67-404, Idaho Code, to state that "each regular session of the legislature shall adjourn sine die on or before 11:59 p.m. on the last Friday in March," with certain exceptions. 

Exceptions allow the session to continue "for the sole purpose of addressing a gubernatorial veto or vetoes, or potential gubernatorial veto or vetoes;" or "if at such time, the entire state is under a state of emergency, extreme emergency, or disaster emergency declared by the governor"; or "if the legislature passes a concurrent resolution to extend the session that is approved by a 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 government’s 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 legislation. Under the compressed timeline 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 the public’s ability to provide meaningful input. 

Additionally, a shortened session will effectively transfer even more power to legislative leaders 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.


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