Let me lay out how crazy the special legislative session has been so far

Idaho’s Republican governor declared a state of emergency on 03/13/2020 due to the Coronavirus [1]. Among other things, this state of emergency qualified Idaho for medical funding and supplies as well as funding for unemployment. This week the federal government also said that Idaho could extend their unemployment benefits (which were supposed to run out this month) [3].

Article IV, Section 9 of Idaho’s constitution specifies that only the governor can call for a special legislative session [4]. In the official call for a special session, the governor specifies that the ONLY things that can be talked [5] about are RS28045 [6], RS28046 [7], and RS28049 [8].

RS28045 will likely limit the in-person voting centers.

RS28046 requires absentee ballots to be mailed out no later than 30 days prior to the election (45 days for military and overseas voters). It also allows counties to begin opening and scanning absentee ballots up to seven days prior to the elections, but no results will be tabulated until the polls close on election day.

RS28049 provides immunity to persons, businesses, schools, and the government itself from civil liability in regards to the pandemic, as long as there is “good faith” to abide by guidelines. The level of “good faith” isn’t defined so theoretically you could put a “please wash hands due to pandemic” sign up and that releases you from all civil liability. Nursing homes acount for over half of Idaho covid deaths [9], and this law would remove all legal incentive for nursing homes to prevent further deaths.

While it would be blatantly illegal and unconstitutional for the legislative branch from discussing anything else, that didn’t stop the Idaho House of Representatives from passing HC1 this morning [10]. This bill is a trainwreck of misinformation and bias and would put Idahoan lives in danger and put Idahoans in further financial jeporday..

Lines 19-21 of HC1 paint Idaho Statesman as saying its fine to reopen and lift the state of emergency because “Idaho Statesman reported on August 20, 2020, that the coronavirus positivity rate in Idaho has dropped for the fourth consecutive week”, making a reference to the fact that Idaho’s positive tests are returning at 9.2%. However, the actual article [11] says that Idaho has started testing more, which inherently means more negative results, and that “Experts say the positivity rate needs to drop below 5% to demonstrate control of an outbreak.”

HC1 also calls for the end of the state of emergency. They say that it is the state of emergency that has caused economic damage as well as physical and mental health deterioration and not the actual virus. Revoking the state f emergency would strip Idaho’s eligibility for millions of dollars in federal emergency funds for medical purposes as well as unemployment funding. (Idaho recently qualified for a federal extension would would entitle unemployment recipients to $300 extra per week [12].) People who are on unemployment due to the virus would be kicked off, regardless of if their employers choose to open or not.

Idaho’s attorney General has already stated that HC1 “would carry no legal effect and likely be the subject of a successful legal challenge to its validity.” [13] Minority Leader Michelle Stennett said that “In court it will cost taxpayers a lot of money. It’s not legal.”

The people attending this special hearing have been very tense. The first day right wing protestors shattered a glass door [14]. Several right-wing protestors were unknowingly admitted into a House Judiciary hearing on 08/25/20 with fake press badges. They stood up and were calling people nazis, specifically those who recognized the severity of the pandemic and the need for the state of emergency. One protestor needed to be arrested [15]. Ammon Bundy was in that session as a member of the press and also had to arrest him. [16]

In short,

  1. The governor called a special legislative session to discuss 3 bills
  2. Those bills dealt with civil liability, absentee voting, and polling places during the pandemic.
  3. The Idaho House of Representatives illegally and unconstitutionally passed a bill (that will needlessly cost taxpayers thousands of dollars to take to court) that seeks to put Idahoan lives in further medical and financial jeopardy while also misleading people into a political bias.
  4. The right-wing protestors have been violent, disruptive, and several have been arrested.

FYI, this is only day 2.

[1] https://gov.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/74/2020/03/covid-19-declaration_final.pdf

[3] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/25/29-states-can-now-offer-an-extra-300-a-week-in-federal-unemployment-benefits.html

[4] https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idconst/ArtIV/Sect9/

[5] https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/proclamation_special-session.pdf

[6] https://legislature.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/sessioninfo/2020/interim/200805_stawg_RS28045%20-%20vote%20centers.pdf

[7] https://legislature.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/sessioninfo/2020/interim/200805_stawg_RS28046%20-%20absentee%20ballots.pdf

[8] https://legislature.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/sessioninfo/2020/interim/AddendumFinalReport_jrwg_Judiciary%20Working%20Group%20Report.pdf

[9] https://states.aarp.org/idaho/aarp-idaho-opposes-immunity-for-ltc-facilities

[10] https://legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/2020spcl/legislation/HCR001/

[11] https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/coronavirus/article245122605.html

[12] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/25/29-states-can-now-offer-an-extra-300-a-week-in-federal-unemployment-benefits.html

[13] https://www.idahopress.com/eyeonboise/ags-analysis-hcr-1-illegal-wouldnt-stand-up-in-court/article_f2030699-2835-50f1-bb78-5059a3e60310.html

[14] https://www.idahopress.com/eyeonboise/isp-investigation-is-under-way-into-any-criminal-behavior-that-may-have-occurred/article_d658dbce-d80a-51a5-902f-e2f01899895b.html

[15] https://www.idahopress.com/eyeonboise/police-remove-two-from-judiciary-hearing-amid-shouts-one-arrest/article_f75dd0d4-b1d6-518c-9f65-899ad821470e.html

[16] https://www.idahopress.com/eyeonboise/isp-appears-to-have-detained-ammon-bundy-after-he-wouldnt-leave-lincoln-auditorium/article_353bd183-b265-54d7-9bce-c34bad62b530.html#tncms-source=infinity-scroll-summary-latest

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