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Eye On Boise

Senate backs changing Constitution to let speaker, pro-tem order guv to call special session for veto override

With little debate, the Senate has voted 28-6 in favor of SJR 106, Sen. Steve Vick’s proposed constitutional amendment to empower the House speaker and the Senate president pro-tem to order the governor to call a special session of the Legislature for a veto override try, if the veto was issued after lawmakers finished their session and left town. Currently, Idaho lawmakers have no way to override post-session vetoes, though nothing stops them from proposing the same bill again when they convene the next year.

Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, argued against the bill, saying empowering just two officials to call a special session on behalf of the whole Legislature was inappropriate; Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, responded that the Legislature could pass enabling legislation if the constitutional amendment passes, requiring more steps. But it received the required two-thirds vote, and now moves to the House side. Amending the Idaho Constitution requires two-thirds support in each house of the Legislature, followed by majority support from voters at the next general election; the governor doesn't weigh in.

Vick said he was prompted to propose the change to the Idaho Constitution because when he served in the Montana Legislature, that state had rules allowing for a poll of legislators for post-session overrides. Washington state lawmakers can take up a post-session override attempt at the start of the next session.

The Idaho Constitution says only the governor can call a special session of the Legislature, and special sessions are limited to only those topics named in the governor’s proclamation calling the session. Idaho’s last special session of the Legislature was in 2006, a one-day session called by then-Gov. Jim Risch to shift school funding from property tax to sales tax. Each day the Legislature is in session costs taxpayers an estimated $30,000.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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