Idaho legislative update: Senate tries to trim governor’s emergency powers, limit legal marijuana and limit price gouging

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, file photo, the Idaho Senate gathers in the Statehouse in Boise, Idaho. A proposed constitutional amendment that would prevent the legalization of pot and other psychoactive drugs has cleared the Idaho Senate and is headed to the House. (AP Photo/Keith Ridler, File)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) —

EMERGENCY POWERS

Lawmakers are taking another shot at trimming an Idaho governor’s power during an emergency event such as the pandemic. The Senate State Affairs Committee voted to hold a hearing on the bill that is a reworked version of previous legislation.

The new legislation allows the governor to declare a “state of extreme peril” and extend it past 60 days but only to ensure federal funding continues. The proposed law would require any restrictions accompanying a governor’s order to expire after 60 days unless renewed by the Legislature.

Lawmakers are angry with actions taken by Republican Gov. Brad Little to slow the coronavirus, which included a temporary lockdown.

CONSITUTIONAL BAN ON LEGAL MARIJUANA

A proposed constitutional amendment that would prevent the legalization of pot and other psychoactive drugs has cleared the Idaho Senate and is headed to the House.

The Senate mustered the two-thirds needed with a 24-11 vote on Wednesday to approve the resolution. The bill next goes to the House and if it is passed there, Idaho voters will decide in 2022 whether to approve the amendment to the state constitution.

Backers say Idaho is surrounded by states with legal marijuana and they don’t want it. Opponents say the measure would permanently ban medical marijuana for patients with terminal illnesses or chronic pain.

EMERGENCY PRICE-GOUGING LAW

Legislation to alter state law to allow what the Idaho attorney general’s office considers a form of price gouging during a declared emergency such as the pandemic is headed to the full Senate.

The Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve the legislation that would allow sellers to keep prices high to consumers even if prices they paid suppliers plummeted. The proposed change follows three Idaho gas retailers in November agreeing to provide $1.5 million in sales credits after the attorney general’s office launched an investigation into their fuel prices during the pandemic.

The retailers didn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing under the agreement.

$900 MILLION IN AID MONEY HAS NOT BEEN SPENT

Idaho state lawmakers in a power struggle with Republican Gov. Brad Little say they should have been called back into session last year to distribute $1.25 billion in coronavirus rescue money that Little doled out. But now that the part-time, Republican-dominated Legislature has gathered in Boise, lawmakers have the power to allocate money and have not approved spending any of $900 million in new federal rescue money received by the state.

The inaction comes despite calls from groups saying the money is needed immediately. The money can go for programs including meals on wheels, rent assistance and child care.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.