IDAHO LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: constitutional ban on legal marijuana, power to call special sessions, COVID-19 money, mask mandates prohibited

BOISE, Idaho (AP)

CONSTITUTIONAL BAN ON LEGAL MARIJUANA DIES

A proposed constitutional amendment that would have prevented the legalization of marijuana and other drugs without the approval of two-thirds of the Idaho Legislature has died in the House.

The legislation on Thursday failed to attain the two-thirds majority needed for a proposed constitutional amendment and died on a 42-28 vote.

The legislation had already cleared the Senate. It would have gone to voters in 2022 had it passed the House.

Backers argued Idaho needs to make legalizing drugs tougher. They fear a potential voter initiative that could legalize medical marijuana.

Opponents said the constitutional amendment was too broad and could prevent the approval of useful drugs in Idaho.

LEGISLATURE WANTS POWER TO CALL SPECIAL SESSIONS

An Idaho House panel has approved a proposed constitutional amendment allowing the part-time Legislature to call itself into session.

The committee on a voice vote Thursday sent the resolution to the full House, where it will need a two-thirds majority to pass. It has already cleared the Senate.

If it passes the House, the amendment would go before voters in November 2022. If voters approve with a simple majority, the Legislature could call itself back into session if 60% of lawmakers in each the House and Senate agree.

Currently, only governors can call special sessions. Opponents say lawmakers calling special sessions could lead to a full-time Legislature.

SPENDING COVID-19 MONEY MUST BE APPROVED BY LEGISLATURE

The Idaho Legislature’s budget committee has approved a proposed law requiring that about $2.2 billion coming to the state from the latest round of federal coronavirus rescue money must be approved by lawmakers before it is spent by state agencies.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee voted 14-5 on Wednesday to approve the measure. Lawmakers have been angry that Republican Gov. Brad Little spent previous federal rescue money without their input.

Idaho is getting about $5.3 billion in the latest package. That includes $2.1 billion in direct payments to people and businesses.

Of the remaining $3.2 billion, about $2.2 billion would require the Legislature’s approval.

MASK MANDATES PROHIBITED

Idaho’s House has approved legislation prohibiting mask mandates by government entities in Idaho.

Lawmakers voted 47-22 on Wednesday with no Democratic support to send the bill to the Senate. Republican Gov. Brad Little never imposed a statewide mask mandate. But a handful of counties and about a dozen cities have during the coronavirus pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Backers say requiring masks violates personal rights. Contradicting public health experts, Republican Rep. Karey Hanks says information she has finds that masks aren’t effective in preventing disease. The bill’s opponents say mask mandates are a local issue and effectively prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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1 Comment

  • Andre Leonard April 18, 2021 at 10:54 am Reply

    Exporting $10 million annually to a neighboring state (Oregon) that has 6 dispensaries in one small city (Ontario) because you want to live in Jurassic Park is not a tenable business model as we are currently seeing. Fact is that money needs to stay in Idaho.

    I commend the sensible members of Idaho’s legislature who voted no on this attempt to muzzle the will of the people. The initiative process exists for a reason. To seek reason and change lawfully. It’s never wise to tamper or thwart the will of the people.

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