IDAHO LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Bills to defund AG’s office are dead; teacher pay; limits to governor’s powers

FILE PHOTO - Idaho State Capitol in Boise, Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP)

BILLS TO DEFUND ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE

Two bills that cleared the Idaho House with overwhelming Republican support to defund Republican Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office for not being sufficiently partisan have died in the Senate.

The powerful Republican chairwoman and chairman of Senate committees with control of the bills said Monday that they will not get hearings. The senators say the legislation could cost Idaho taxpayers millions of dollars.

Republican lawmakers in the House are frustrated with Wasden. He declined to join a Texas lawsuit to invalidate the presidential election and warned some legislation is unconstitutional.

He’s angered Republicans by insisting on maximizing profit from logging, grazing and mining leases on state-owned land.

TEACHER PAY

The House has rejected legislation to pay $1.1 billion to Idaho’s K-12 teachers amid concerns about what is being taught in schools.

Lawmakers deadlocked 34-34 Tuesday in a tie vote that means the bill fails to advance. The defeat means the must-pass budget bill goes back to the Legislature’s budget committee to be reworked.

Opponents of the bill say they respect and support teachers, but the legislation needs to have language prohibiting teaching of some ideas. Opponents specifically targeted critical race theory, which examines the way race and racism influences politics, culture and the law.

Supporters say budget bills shouldn’t involve policy, and Idaho teachers deserve the money.

LIMITS TO GOVERNOR’S POWERS

A House panel has approved Senate changes to a bill trimming a governor’s powers during declared emergencies while increasing the Legislature’s power.

The House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday approved two modest changes to the bill made in the Senate. Lawmakers are taking aim at rules intended to stem the pandemic, like limiting gatherings and nonessential travel, as well as a governor’s authority during localized natural disasters such as wildfires and floods.

Another bill already sent to the governor targets a governor’s emergency powers during human-made events, such as a terrorist attack. The bill approved by the House panel now goes to the full House and, if approved, will go to the governor.

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