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State agencies may soon get OK to close shop

State agencies may soon get OK to close shop

Dustin Hurst
February 18, 2010
Dustin Hurst
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February 18, 2010

State agencies facing massive budget deficits have passed the first step to being able to close shop on Fridays.

According to Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, Idaho Code requires all state offices to remain open during normal business hours. He would like to see a provision enacted to clear up what could be a problem. State departments  at all levels have been forced to require employees to take furlough time, or non-paid days off, to help ease budget constraints and save funds, said Bedke.  The Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) started closing its offices for half of the day every other Friday in January.  Those closures will continue until June 11.

In his testimony before the House State Affairs Committee, Bedke said that "if the law is strictly followed, lights must be on and someone must be there."  Bedke did not say if DHW would face some form of punishment for closing its doors.

Rep. Anne Pasley-Stuart, D-Boise, asked Bedke if state agencies could handle the cuts by enacting rolling shifts of furloughs instead of closing the doors.  Bedke said that several agencies have already used rolling shifts, but this legislation is needed if that method is ineffective in reducing costs.

The committee voted to introduce Bedke's plan, which will receive further deliberation by lawmakers next week.

(Rep. Bedke had a busy day in the Idaho Legislature; Click here to read about his proposal to provide state colleges and universities with a financial safety net.)

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