Little to veto ‘Emergency Powers Bill’

Governor Brad Little

Governor Brad Little announced today he will veto House Bill 135 and Senate Bill 1136, the “emergency powers bills” that threaten the safety of Idahoans and the Idaho economy during future emergencies.

Former Governors C.L. “Butch” Otter, Jim Risch, Dirk Kempthorne and Phil Batt all provided statements of support for Governor Little’s vetoes.

Governor Little will veto the bills because they are overly restrictive and handcuff the state’s ability to take timely and necessary action to help Idahoans in future emergencies. The bills unnecessarily politicize the state’s emergency response efforts and jeopardize critical funding for local governments.

The bills violate the separation of powers doctrine and are unconstitutional.

Governor Little’s official veto letter can be found here.

In addition, U.S. Senator and former Idaho governor Jim Risch and former governor Phil Batt provided statements in support of Little’s vetoes.

“I am proud to stand with all of Idaho’s living Governors in support of Governor Little’s veto of the emergency powers bills,” Batt wrote. “During the 1996 Panhandle Floods – a major natural disaster that spanned months – I was able to initiate and continue an emergency declaration at the request of local communities so Idaho could access critical resources and overcome the crisis. Governors need the ability to act quickly during an emergency to protect lives, jobs, and the economy. That is the proper role of the executive. The Governor’s emergency authorities are recognized in our state Constitution and should be maintained.”

“Having spent decades in the Idaho legislature before serving as lieutenant governor, governor and U.S. Senator for Idaho, I am no stranger to power struggles between the legislative and executive branches; those struggles are as old as our form of government,” Risch wrote. “Those debates and tensions make clear that certain powers should rest with the legislative branch such as the power of the purse and certain powers should rest with the chief executive, such as emergency powers where quick and sometimes instant action is needed.

“In times of crisis, the governor — any governor — must have the ability to quickly and effectively address an emergency challenge. Such authority should not be unlimited or perpetual but hampering a governor’s latitude and discretion to act in future unknown emergencies is not in the state’s best interest. A long list of realistic ‘what if’s’ could be produced and in an agricultural state like Idaho a governor’s inability to act on a livestock or crop issue could be catastrophic along with other humans focused disasters. I fully support Governor Little’s decision to veto the bills.”

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