May 3, 2022
Could the Legislature Call Itself into Session?
By: Art da Rosa, Candidate for Idaho Senate in District 28
Last Friday, April 29, I participated in a Meet and Greet organized by the Franklin County Republican Central Committee. I shared the stage with Mr. Jim Guthrie. We were asked the same questions. We took turns to respond with no follow-up opportunities.
One of the questions focused on whether or not the legislature may convene itself. To provide context, in November of 2021 several conservative legislators wanted to reconvene to discuss Governor Little’s continuation of the Covid mandates. Mr. Guthrie opposed reconvening. His justification was that it would cost the taxpayers money. In my opinion, his answer was disingenuous, as he never shied away from funding programs or projects that expand the government. Mr. Guthrie, who has been serving in Boise for over twenty years, is part of the Establishment. He maintains a cordial relationship with the Elites, and he wanted that relationship to continue.
I am on the other side of the camp. Each elected official has sworn to uphold the Constitution. Their allegiance is, therefore, to the Constitution. Not to the party. Not to the elites. Not even to the duly elected governor. It is precisely for this reason that the Founding Fathers gave us the concept of Separation of Power; in fact, they defined Tyranny as the combination of more than one governmental power into a single entity (see Federalist 47).
In practical terms, what does this mean? While I do not advocate being contrary just for the sake of being contrary, the Founding Fathers designed each branch of government (including the State governments) to be independent of the others. This is the reason for the Separation of Powers, each branch of government has a certain role, and they are not to be mixed.
To further ensure intergovernmental independence, the Founding Fathers gave us Checks and Balances. Note that these are separate concepts. Checks mean that one branch of government can say NO to another. For example, the President has the power to Veto legislation he deems unconstitutional. The ability to Veto is a Check power.
Balance means that one branch of government will need the support of another to make things happen. For example, the President negotiated a treaty. He will need the support of the Senate before that treaty is ratified.
Regarding the relationship between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch, it is one of mutual verification for constitutional compliance. It does not need to be adversarial, but neither does it need to be chummy.
Returning to the last November attempt for the Legislature to reconvene: some legislators noticed actions by the governor were not compliant with the Constitution. Do they have the right and responsibility to voice their opinion? Yes. Do they have the right and responsibility to address the situation? Clearly, yes. Should the Legislators discuss it, even if there is no clear majority on the issue? Also, Yes.
How can the legislators fulfill their responsibility if they were prevented from reconvening?
There is an imbalance in the concept of Separation of Power in Boise. If elected, I will honor the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Idaho and will work to restore the proper balance to the State government.