I’ve had some questions from readers about HJR 5, the constitutional amendment on Idaho’s November ballot, noting that the issue is obscure and the ballot explanations complex. Here’s a simple explanation:
Currently, all administrative rules issued by state agencies are reviewed by the Legislature; they can accept them or reject them. This would enshrine the Legislature's right to do this in the state Constitution, and not let the governor have any veto power over any rules rejections. He doesn't now. So, if this passed, what would change? Nothing.
The Legislature's right to do this is established in state law, upheld by a decision of the Idaho Supreme Court. Legislators think it's an important enough privilege of theirs over the executive branch that they want to put it in the Constitution, so no future court could disagree. Opponents say the courts are best equipped to say which powers each branch of government has, and that the legislative branch is attempting to unduly increase its constitutional power at the expense of the executive branch.
This same amendment was on the ballot in 2014, then called HJR 2, and the voters rejected it, 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent.
HJR 2 passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously in 2014. HJR 5 passed the House this year 62-3 and the Senate 34-1; opponents argued that the voters already had spoken. To amend Idaho’s constitution, a change must receive two-thirds support in each House of the Legislature, plus a majority vote of the people at the next general election.