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Otter Paints Contradictory Picture of HJR5

HJR5 is a proposed amendment to the Idaho Constitution granting the legislature authority to review administrative rules



27 October 2016

Contact: John Thompson, (208) 239-4292

Otter Paints Contradictory Picture of HJR5

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s statement in opposition to House Joint Resolution 5 (HJR5), released yesterday, is disconcerting considering he backed nearly identical legislation just two years ago, the last time the proposed amendment to the Idaho Constitution was on the ballot.

In fact, according to the Idaho Press Tribune, dated October 12, 2014, Otter even advised his mother to vote for the measure. In addition Gov. Otter is on record as recently as mid-April in support of HJR5.

HJR5 is a proposed amendment to the Idaho Constitution granting the legislature authority to review administrative rules and insure those rules are consistent with the legislative intent of the law. State lawmakers participate in reviewing agency rules every year at the beginning of each legislative session. The Idaho Farm Bureau, and several other individuals and organizations, including the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Idaho Water Users Association, Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke, Idaho Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill, and Idaho’s Congressional Delegation support HJR5 because it solidifies the legislature’s authority to continue to review and suggest changes to rules. The main reason behind that support is because legislators are accountable to voters. State agency officials are not.

Gov. Otter’s fear that this amendment limits the governor’s authority to veto legislation completely misses the point. The legislature IS the lawmaking branch of government, while the Executive, including agencies, are only supposed to see that laws are implemented or executed as written.

In addition, there are dozens of examples where citizens have participated in the rule making process through their legislators to affect positive changes. Recently a rule that was reviewed and changed by legislators resulted in significant savings to new home owners and builders. The proposed rule required a different kind of electrical outlet in new construction, raising the cost from about $4 each to about $48 each. An electrician spotted the oversight, contacted his legislator, and they were able to rewrite the rule resulting in significant savings in new construction and scrapping a totally unnecessary rule.

We don’t understand why Gov. Otter reversed course on HJR5. And we don’t believe, as the Governor asserts, that the Legislature has too little authority to protect voters from government bureaucrats run amok. We do believe, however, that HJR5 keeps the door open for citizen involvement in the lawmaking process, which is vital to democracy. Vote Yes on HJR5 on November 8.