The Power to Convene
Our state has been placed under a ‘state of emergency’ going on 90 days June 23, 2020. The people of Idaho have requested that our Legislators convene a special session to handle the situation representing their constituents whose rights and freedoms have been violated numerous times by our Governor. There are three obvious reasons why legislators could convene at the Idaho Capitol on June 23, 2020.
1. ONLY THE LEGISLATURE CAN APPROPRIATE MONEY
- The US Treasury has deposited $1.25 billion into the Idaho treasury pursuant to H.R. 748, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. Article VII, Section 13 of the Idaho State Constitution says “MONEY –HOW DRAWN FROM TREASURY. No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in pursuance of appropriations made by law.”
- The Governor’s use of a financial advisory committee to distribute the CARES funds violates the intent of the Idaho Constitution. The Governor usurps legislative authority by appropriating this sum of money — over $1 billion — and treating it as if it is “non-cognizable funds.” Typically, treating money as non-cognizable funds is the statutory provision for spending small sums of federal grant money made available after a legislative session.
2. THE LEGISLATURE IS NOT INFERIOR TO THE GOVERNOR – AN EMERGENCY DECLARATION BY THE GOVERNOR CAN’T BE USED TO CREATE AN INDEFINITE SHIFT IN THE BALANCE OF POWER IN FAVOR OF THE GOVERNOR
- On March 13, 2020, Governor Little issued a proclamation, citing Idaho Code 46-1008, declaring a disaster emergency. The code section that describes the length of the emergency reads as follows: “the governor shall terminate the state of disaster emergency by executive order or proclamation; provided, however, that no state of disaster emergency may continue for longer than thirty (30) days unless the governor finds that it should be continued for another thirty (30) days or any part thereof. The Legislature by concurrent resolution may terminate a state of disaster emergency at any time. Thereupon, the governor shall issue an executive order or proclamation ending the state of disaster emergency.”
- The Governor has maintained this disaster emergency (which ran concurrently with the Extreme Emergency declaration, which began on March 25 and ended on June 11) since March 13, and on June 11 issued another proclamation maintaining the disaster emergency. Therefore, the Governor has signaled he is not bound to the 60 day limit and may continue to govern Idaho by executive action without input from the Legislative branch.
- It is unconstitutional to claim that the Governor can operate the state under a disaster emergency indefinitely, yet maintain that the Legislature must be in session to “terminate a state of emergency at any time.” The words “at any time” are clear. Acceding that the Governor can usurp full power, to change laws and appropriate money, without any power on the part of the Legislature to act as check is to accept the notion that the Executive and Legislative branches are not equal branches of government. Was the Idaho Constitution written to make the Legislature the inferior branch, by allowing only the governor to call a special session? This allows the same governor to effectively serve as two branches of government, and to prevent a Legislative check on this action, except for the period of roughly January through March?
3. EXECUTIVE ACTIONS BY THE GOVERNOR HAVE BEEN ARBITRARY AND IN CONTRAVENTION TO AMERICA’S FOUNDING PRINCIPLES
- Much has been made of the decision by the Governor to allow state liquor stores to remain open, for which there is no constitutional protection, but to restrict constitutionally-protected religious worship.
- Similarly, the notion that one person can arbitrarily determine which businesses are “essential” and can operate and which businesses are “non-essential” and can’t operate flies in the face of the very notion (contained in the Declaration of Independence) that all … “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
*Thank you Fred Birnbaum Vice President of Idaho Freedom Foundation and Idaho Freedom Action for sharing these points.
Convening in a special session
Unconstitutional Action or Legislative Duty?
Several legal opinions have been written on the matter of the Legislature ‘calling itself into session’ to do the work of the people. Many Senators have responded to citizen’s requests claiming that they have to await the Governor’s request in order to convene which is traditionally in January.
What if our Governor, doesn’t call the legislators back into session in January? Under this ‘perpetual’ state of emergency, he could very well say we have to wait until sometime later next year.
There is a serious issue as of RIGHT NOW our state is not operating as a representative government.
In this video lawyer, Colton Boyles discusses with Miste Karlfeldt and Sarah Clendenon of Health Freedom Idaho the opposing legal opinions.