State Politics

In split with governor, Idaho’s No. 2 official backs ballot measure on rules review

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little called HJR 5, a constitutional amendment before voters on Nov. 8, a “check on regulatory and government expansion.”
Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little called HJR 5, a constitutional amendment before voters on Nov. 8, a “check on regulatory and government expansion.”

Idaho’s second-ranking state official has broken with the governor to endorse a November ballot measure that would enshrine existing legislative review of administrative rule-making in the state Constitution.

Lt. Gov. Brad Little issued a letter of endorsement for the constitutional amendment on Wednesday. Gov. Butch Otter opposes it, citing existing practice and warning of legislative overreach. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden also opposes the measure, which is uniformly endorsed by legislative leaders.

Approved for the November ballot by the Legislature this year, HJR 5, according to proponents, would write into the Constitution the Legislature’s authority to review and reject rules enacted by state agencies. That authority is currently protected under a state Supreme Court order, but supporters want it constitutionally guaranteed.

Voters narrowly defeated the same measure in a 2014 referendum. Otter and Wasden, among opponents, cite the Legislature’s existing legal authority to review agency rules. Even without it, opponents say lawmakers have other ways to challenge agency rules, such as passing laws. The proposed constitutional amendment would make legislative review veto-proof, limiting the governor’s powers

Little, who is running for governor in 2018, said the amendment was a “constitutional check on regulatory and government expansion.”

“While the executive branch enforces our laws by creating administrative rules and regulations, I am thankful our elected legislators can review these rules and ensure they comply with the intent of the law,” Little wrote. “Unfortunately, we live in an age of bureaucratic expansionism on the federal level that often goes unchecked. The good news is that Idaho has strong checks in place to limit and inhibit overregulation we see coming out of D.C. I support HJR 5 because it helps ensure this will always be the case in Idaho.”

Otter last month called the measure a “serious breach” of governmental power. He initially supported it.

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