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Senate advances measures to call Idaho special sessions

The Idaho Senate | EastIdahoNews.com file photo

BOISE (AP) — A Senate panel of lawmakers on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment allowing the part-time Idaho Legislature to call itself into a special session.

The panel also approved companion legislation that would create the legal process to make that happen. Currently, only an Idaho governor can call a special session.

Both measures now head to the full Senate.

RELATED | Idaho House OKs plan to let lawmakers call special sessions

The proposed constitutional amendment has already passed the House with a two-thirds majority and would need the same two-thirds in the Senate. If it passes, it would appear on the November 2022 ballot where it would need a simple majority.

The legislation stems from lawmaker dissatisfaction with restrictions that Republican Gov. Brad Little put in place last March to reduce coronavirus infections and deaths. The Republican-dominant Legislature had adjourned for the year by then.

If voters approve it in 2022, lawmakers could call themselves back into session if 60% of members in each the House and Senate agree.

Lawmakers on the Senate panel opposed to the legislation said 60% was too low, and should be two-thirds. That’s the same number needed to override a governor’s veto.

Lawmakers also said the 60% number could cause voters to reject the constitutional amendment, fearing lawmakers would make themselves into a full-time Legislature.

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