- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Voters will be asked Nov. 4 to amend the Idaho Constitution so lawmakers can reject rules created by executive branch agencies.

The proposed amendment is the only statewide initiative on this year’s ballot.

It’s widely supported by state lawmakers but has received scant attention because of little opposition against it. It’s also a complicated initiative to explain, involving the Legislature’s lengthy rulemaking process.

WHAT IS IT?

The tweak would apply to an important but tedious process that takes place in the first weeks of each legislative session, when Idaho lawmakers review a breadth of rules submitted by executive branch agencies. The rules can vary from the mundane to controversial, such as setting education standards in public schools, banning same-sex couples from filing joint state income taxes, and free speech rights of protesters at the Capitol.

SO WHAT’S THE PROCESS?

Rules are presented to the Legislature starting in January. They carry the same force as law because they are drafted to implement state statutes. Today, vetoing a rule requires a majority vote from the House and Senate. The Legislature has the option to amend the rule or do away with it, meaning the executive branch must start over. The veto doesn’t require the governor’s signature.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE INITIATIVE PASSES?

Nothing. The amendment only codifies into state law the Legislature’s authority to veto rules. That authority currently is reliant on a split ruling the Idaho Supreme Court granted made nearly 25 years ago.

Lawmakers say they need to add their authority to the state constitution before the court’s ruling is challenged and possibly overturned.

WHO SUPPORTS IT?

Idaho lawmakers unanimously approved the proposed initiative during the 2014 Legislature. House Speaker Scott Bedke of Oakley has been one of the initiative’s biggest advocates. He recently wrote in an editorial: “Of all the votes you will cast this November, voting ‘yes’ on this constitutional amendment could well be the most important.”

According to Bedke, the Legislature needs the amendment because it will provide oversight to agencies that could implement “overreaching” rules.

WHO IS AGAINST IT?

Unlike statewide initiatives of the past, this one has no organized campaign running against it. However, a few guest opinion pieces have appeared in newspaper arguing the amendment is unnecessary. And according to the Idaho voter guide, some point out the rule change could encroach on the executive branch’s power.


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