The Idaho House voted Wednesday to override a veto by Governor Brad Little of a bill that would limit the governor’s powers during an emergency.
The 48-19 vote is a rebuff to the governor’s argument that the bill limits his ability to quickly act.
Legislative leaders say the governor has all the authority he needs to declare emergencies. They say he has misused that authority during the pandemic, by suspending laws and unilaterally spending hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid.
During floor debate on the veto override, Rep. Dorothy Moon [R-Stanley] argued the proposal is an attempt by the legislature to reassert its rights.
“I don’t know how I would have handled an emergency like this if I was governor, but I would sure like a lot more input or consult from all of us with so many different, varied backgrounds. It would have definitely warranted a bigger discussion. But we were totally ignored," she said.
Opponents, such as Rep. John Gannon [D-Boise], argued broad consultations, like the one envisioned by Moon, are not always practical.
“Legislatures are not designed to deal with disasters. That’s the problem with this bill," he said.
Wednesday’s vote exceeded the two-thirds margin needed to override a veto. The bill now heads to the Senate for its consideration.