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Unlimited Substitution To End For Lawmakers If Bill Approved

Idaho legislators would no longer be free to name substitutes to fill in for them whenever they want, under a bill sent to the full Senate for consideration Monday.

The bill, which won the unanimous approval of the Senate State Affairs Committee Monday, would allow substitutes only in case of “extreme medical emergency.”

The bill also requires that the substitute legislator live in the same district, belong to the same party as the absent legislator and be eligible to serve as a legislator.

The term of a substitute would be limited to 30 days, with a possible 15-day extension.

Sen. David Kerrick, R-Caldwell, said he prepared the legislation with the understanding that everyone wants the system changed. Idaho is the only state that allows temporary fill-in legislators.

But, he said, “I’ve heard recently there may be some rumblings in the House that they’re not interested in restricting it after all.”

If the bill passes the Senate, it will move to the House for consideration.

Former Rep. Janet Jenkins, D-Coeur d’Alene, missed several weeks of the legislative session last year and used substitutes while she handled a murder case in her law practice, prompting some calls for revision of the substitute system.


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