Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Statehouse perspective


History of When the Idaho Legislature Convenes
Bob Geddes
Boise--Originally the Idaho Constitution stated that a biennially legislative session shall begin on the first Monday after the first day of January.  A constitutional amendment was proposed in 1967 and supported by a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate.  The citizens of Idaho then voted to determine if their constitution should be amended to provide for an annual legislative session and to change the day that the legislative sessions should convene.  This measure passed by a majority vote of the people in the 1968 November general election.  
Article 3, Section 8 of the Idaho constitution now states, “Sessions of Legislature.  The sessions of the legislature shall be held annually at the capital of the state, commencing on the second Monday of January of each year, unless a different day shall have been appointed by law, and at other times when convened by the governor.”  
House sponsors of the Constitutional Amendment said that if the amendment is approved by the people, it could be implemented by law to provide that sessions in odd-numbered years could consider the full range of state business and those on even numbered years could be confined to financial matters.  While that idea has often been discussed, good reasons have prevented that from becoming the accepted practice.  
The people supported the amendment and since then, Idaho has convened an annual session of the Idaho State Legislature.  
In 1975, Senator Vernon K. Brassey (R-Boise) sponsored a bill that became Idaho Code 67-404.  This requires the following and it could be said that this statue takes precedent over the constitution.  The statute says, “SESSIONS OF LEGISLATURE.  At the hour of twelve o’clock M. on the Monday on or nearest the ninth day in January the regular session of the legislature shall be convened.”  There is no record identifying the basis for this change.   So, I will speculate.  I doubt that legislators enjoyed traveling to Boise to begin the session on the day after the New Year’s Day holiday.  
It is interesting that the constitution provides for the legislature to establish a different legislative starting date and time.  But In 2015, it just so happens that the legislature will convene on the date specified by both constitution and the precedent setting Idaho Code.  It also happened that in 1967, the day after the first day of January was the Tuesday following the New Year’s Day holiday.

The legislature will convene at 12:00 noon M. (assuming the “M.” means Mountain Standard Time) on Monday January 12, 1015.   

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