The legislative circus has ended and the clowns, elephants, and ringmasters have left town. The 2020 legislative special session concluded when lawmakers finished their business late Wednesday night. Below is a short summary of the action and three takeaways for conservatives who want to win policy battles.
The background. Earlier this month, Gov. Brad Little called a special session to deal with election and Covid-19 liability issues that have popped up during the pandemic. Lawmakers opened the session Monday, Aug. 25 and immediately dove into the two issues, plus a few more.
While I could discuss the antics that occurred this week in the Capitol, I won’t — because the legacy media has that topic adequately covered.
Instead, let’s focus on substance: What lawmakers did, and what conservatives need to know about the 2021 legislation session. Keep in mind that legislators who survive the November elections will return to the Capitol in roughly 130 days.
What lawmakers accomplished. Not much, really. Legislators passed a few measures, including a bill to give large and small businesses immunity from lawsuits that might arise out of the pandemic. In short, customers won’t be able to sue a business if they believe they contracted Coronavirus at that establishment. Such a case is difficult to prove anyway, but a majority of lawmakers believe the bill will save businesses legal fees and other headaches.
Lawmakers also passed small tweaks to absentee ballot deadlines, as well as a bill that mandates in-person voting in the state. The House passed a resolution that urges the governor to take extra measures to open the polls to in-person voting this fall. The resolution, which suggests training the Idaho National Guard to work the polls if the state lacks enough workers, has no force of law.
The Idaho Senate passed its own resolution, a measure that politely asks the governor to end the state of emergency declaration. The House had previously passed a stronger measure that would have forced an end to the declaration, but the Senate unanimously killed that.
What lawmakers didn’t do. Thousands of Idaho families are grappling with the so-called new normal in education: Zoom classrooms, at-home instruction, or some hybrid model. Lawmakers could have done something to aid those families, including using federal CARES Act dollars to help families purchase school supplies, but lawmakers punted.
My three takeaways from the special session are:
We will certainly keep an eye on these significant policy issues for you. To stay engaged, I encourage you to join IFF’s new text action group. Select "Idaho Freedom Index" in the box below to get timely legislative updates sent straight to your mobile phone at no cost to you.