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ID Governor Vetoes Emergency Powers Bills, Enlists Predecessors To Support Him

Screenshot from Idaho Public Television

Idaho Governor Brad Little today [Friday] vetoed two bills aimed at curbing his authority during emergency situations.

Legislative leaders say the governor has kept Idaho in a formal state of emergency for too long. They’re upset that he suspended state laws without consulting them and that he has authorized the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars of federal aid without their input.

Little fired back in a video veto message Friday afternoon. He said he worked with legislative leaders when he could and called the bills, quote, “an emotional knee-jerk reaction because of anger about the pandemic.”

“The bills severely interrupt and slow down the emergency response because the response becomes subject to 105 different opinions, adding more red tape and government bureaucracy and potentially impacting lives and livelihoods," he said.

The governor argued that he has responsibly managed the state during the pandemic, especially its economy.

As part of his veto message, Little released statements of support from Idaho’s four living former governors, Phil Batt, Senator Jim Risch, Butch Otter and Dirk Kempthorne.

“It’s not unusual during disasters that the governor is at the scene of an incident with the incident commander. It was not unusual to have incident commanders - leadership - turn to say, “Governor, we need a decision.” And they need a decision immediately. That is not the time that a governor should say, 'I’ll get back to you. I must check with the legislature,'" Kempthorne said in a video played at the ceremony.

Otter said the bills Little vetoed threaten the future of the state. He urged legislative leaders to start over and involve all parties if they want to try again.

Republican legislative leaders released a statement in response. They say the bills weren’t a response to the job Little has done. They say their constituents asked them to rebalance power between the executive and legislative branches.

It’s unclear how they will proceed, but both bills were approved by veto proof margins.

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