Special session success overshadowed by Senate’s failure to end Covid emergency


Idaho’s special legislative session produced a giant victory over interest groups. The interest groups desperately wanted businesses to enforce government mandates in exchange for the coveted prize of immunity from lawsuits. However, the lawsuit immunity bill that ultimately passed — on mostly party-line votes — instead says: No one may sue an establishment under the pretense that he or she contracted Covid-19 while visiting it; thus, everyone is afforded lawsuit immunity arising from such a claim.

But that victory is overshadowed by the Legislature’s unwillingness to confront and upend Gov. Brad Little’s declared ongoing state of emergency. For nearly six months, this state of emergency has been used to restrict gatherings and to threaten additional restrictions if positive Covid test numbers rise. Little has used the emergency order to suspend and alter various laws, including a rewriting of the state’s Open Meeting Law such that it has kept people from participating in the formulation of public policy. A very real threat remains that the election laws, which have been altered by executive fiat, will be altered again in the weeks leading up to the 2020 general election.

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Members of the Idaho state Senate are now busy trying to pretend they did something meaningful to curtail the governor’s power, even though they’re the ones who rejected a House-passed resolution that would have ended the state of emergency. Senators now insist that voiding the governor’s emergency declaration wouldn’t do anything. And they’re claiming that a resolution they passed represents a meaningful approach to the problem.

In reality, all the Senate did was bend the knee and approve what is tantamount to a “mother, may I” letter to the governor. To further justify doing almost nothing, senators are hiding behind the skirt of an attorney general’s opinion that claims the Legislature is constitutionally powerless. Conflict much? This is the same attorney general’s office that has been advising the governor all along about the propriety of his emergency actions.

Had the Legislature voted to end the state of emergency the worst that might have happened: a lawsuit to resolve the question of which government branch is right. The state Senate didn’t want to go there because in the Legislature’s hierarchy of needs, political self-protectionism outweighs the need to serve constituents who are tired of a political authority controlling peaceful people and businesses.

Undecided as to whether the Senate is a cabal of cowardice or limited by bonafide constitutional concern, consider this: Had Democrat Paulette Jordan won the 2018 gubernatorial election, there is little doubt that the Legislature would have convened months ago and the emergency declaration would be over.

On the issue of lawsuit immunity, Idahoans can be excited that their unified voices were heard. That they triumphed over the many interest groups that wanted to weaponize government mandates by having businesses acquiesce to any order that officials might issue in order to avoid lawsuits. In that regard, this special legislative session was a success. But state lawmakers shouldn’t pretend that they did all they could to restore our republican form of government and get our state back to some semblance of normal, because that simply is a lie.

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3 thoughts on “Special session success overshadowed by Senate’s failure to end Covid emergency

  1. Mr. Hoffman,
    I too was disappointed at the Idaho senate’s refusal to directly address the unconstitutional edicts Gov. Little has imposed during this supposed”emergency”. The claim by one Boise senator was that by him declaring an emergency it “has allowed Governor Little to loosen a variety of legal requirements”, also “allowed the state access to millions of dollars in federal funds for things such as personal protective equipment and services to vulnerable populations, particularly the elderly. Also note that terminating the Governor’s emergency declaration would not discontinue mask orders, gathering size restrictions, etc. because those were mandates from local governments and public health districts.”
    Idahoans also need to address, correct and limit the imposition of unelected/elected officials at local health district’s because they appear to have unconstrained authority.

  2. Dear Wayne: I agree there is a level of cowardice involved for many of Idaho’s legislators. I don’t know how Wasden concludes it would be illegal to limit the Governors emergency powers, or for the legislator to call an emergency session to stop the Tyranny of the Governor. He and Little are both despots that need to be thrown out.
    What needs to be done is to reduce by half the number or less the amount of signatures needed to recall politicians and only half of the ballots cast in the election rather than half the registered voters. Less than half of Idaho registered voters actually do there civic duty anyhow.
    Using another commenters terms partly, this whole thing is a fiasco and we have many Godless “nincompoops” in our government. Men without wisdom from God and the fear of cannot govern.
    The idea that an all out race batter, full blown Marxist that really can’t even communicate on the same level as Joe Biden, who can sometimes not even speak English or keep a thought, like Paulette Jordan Would have done it any differently is completely laughable and ridiculous. Just look at the rest of the marxist ran states and communities in the nation like New York and California to name a few.
    I try to follow your thought process and your freedom foundation but I think it’s confusing at best to know where your coming from and where your going.
    Long live the Republic.
    May wiser God fearing men lead us in the future and the nation return to God.

  3. Wayne, why wasn’t the petition to recall Little ever successful? Recalling those in office that violate thier oath to uphold the Constituion is the only way of restoring and maintaining our Republic.

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