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Posts published in “Day: October 18, 2014”

No difference at all

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

A reader points out that Idaho voters next month will decide whether to pass an amendment to the state constitution, and “The only info I have is in the "Idaho Voters' Pamphlet" and it's not enough”: She requests some guidance.

Okay: On this one, you can feel comfortable throwing a dart blindfolded at your ballot. Whether you pass it or fail it, it will make no difference whatsoever, not to Idaho voters, their government, or anything else. When I read that one of its main floor backers, Senator Curt McKenzie of Nampa, said it was among most significant pieces of legislation he'd dealt with, I hoped that his legislative career has amounted to more than that.

What House Joint Resolution 2, which passed both chambers with not a single vote opposed, does say is that the Legislature can authorize and holds final effective approval power over all agency rules and regulations. That would be significant if the legislature already had not been doing that. Legislatures take varying roles in dealing with agency regulations, but the Idaho Legislature has been overseeing and accepting and rejecting rules for decades – to my knowledge at least since the 70s, and probably long before that.

For many years, the legislature gave the rules a quick look, maybe throwing out two or three controversial ones in a normal session. Since the mid-90s, it has been applying a microscope to them, spending the first quarter or so of each session hunkered down over not legislation but administrative rules to decide whether they will stay there, or should be kicked out, or amended. Some studies have concluded that the Idaho Legislature has, for a couple of decades, had more power over and more closely reviewed the rules than any other legislature in the country.

So what is the new proposed amendment intended to accomplish? Basically, to allow the system Idaho has had for a couple of decades to stay in place.

Is there any reason to think it won't? Legislative backers point out a couple of challenges to legislative rule approval at the Idaho Supreme Court; but the court has each time upheld the legislature. That's too much locked-in precedent for such a change to happen easily.

But even if it did, the practical difference would be, as a lawyer would say, de minimis. Administrative rules can be set up only within the terms of state law, so the legislature sets the parameters to start with. If the rules color outside the lines, they can be challenged and thrown out in court. Legislators can also change state law as they please to rein in regulatory ideas they don't like or impose those they do; there's not a lot of limit on how specific law can be. (Laws can be held unconstitutional for vagueness but generally not for specificity.) Legislators also hold the power of the purse, and can (and often do) include statements specifically describing what money cannot be used for, or must be used for – which amounts to sweeping control of what an agency does. A legislator might argue that a governor can veto a bill, even a budget bill; but two-thirds of the legislature can override vetoes. (more…)

On the front pages

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Time capsule found in old statute (Boise Statesman)
Police observing rail crossings (Boise Statesman)
IF city officials start strategic planning (IF Post Register)
Lewiston, Orchards Sewer, hit impasse in talks (Lewiston Tribune)
Washington initiative on class size has costs (Lewiston Tribune)
Palouse city has mass of public record requests (Moscow News)
UI Dean Bruce Pitman departing (Moscow News)
Balukoff school backer never voted in Idaho (Idaho Press Tribune)
Library Square tenants evaluate options (Idaho Press Tribune)
New ads up in race for governor (TF Times News)
Options considers to cut auto-wildlife collisions (TF Times News)

New UO fundraise goal set at $2b (Eugene Register Guard)
Debate rages on driver license ballot issue (Eugene Register Guard)
State student endowman plan on ballot (Eugene Register Guard)
Voters asked for $36 million for KF high school (KF Herald & News)
Judge says cities can bar medical pot retailing (KF Herald & News)
Circuit judge contest renews at Jackson Co (Medford Tribune)
Reviewing Jackson Co commission 1 candidates (Medford Tribune)
On future of Umatilla-area school service district (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Senator Hansell blasts Kitzhaber on water spills (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pot dispensary access becoming easier in OR (Portland Oregonian)
Ferrioli blasts negative campaign ads (Salem Statesman Journal)

Kilmer heavily outspends opponent (Bremerton Sun)
Bainbridge Island gets new park (Bremerton Sun)
King home values rise, and so do taxes (Seattle Times)
Looking at frequent turnover in neighborhoods (Seattle Times)
Examining reduced-class-size initiative (Spokane Spokesman)
Spokane council member partner in pot business (Spokane Spokesman)
New museum planned for Point Ruston (Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver school board may expand meeting notice (Vancouver Columbian)
Controversial prayer breakfast with Boykin held (Vancouver Columbian)
Looking at the problem of hoarders (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima schools may see athletic upgrades (Yakima Herald Republic)