Special Session Update – Important Ballot Information for Election
By Rep. Heather Scott
This is a view of my backyard in early September.
A lot has happened since my last update. Two county fairs, a special session in Boise, three speaking events and a wildfire near my home with a full evacuation has consumed much of my time and energy over the last 30 days.
I wanted to give you a brief update on the emergency session called by the Governor in late August and bring to your attention some important information regarding the upcoming November elections in Idaho. I plan to send out a detailed list of ways citizens can get involved in the near future. Thank you for being involved in Idaho issues and Idaho’s government.
A Few things to know concerning the Idaho Extra-Ordinary Legislative Session Called by the Governor.
After months of citizen outcry and pressure from frustrated legislators, the Governor issued a proclamation resolution calling for a special session to be held on August 24th. You can view the proclamation at this link. (Proclamation Link) Unfortunately, the legislature was limited to ONLY address issues specifically outlined in the proclamation. The Governor worked with legislative leadership to set up “working committee groups” before the special session to nail down specific language and determine anticipated vote counts on the topics. In this “working” committee, the chairman limited discussion to specific desired language and would not allow any new amendments to the draft bills.
In my opinion, the Governor’s actions for this special session were the result of the heat he was feeling for his unilateral decision making and the overstepping of his constitutional authority by changing laws. Lawsuits have been filed against him for misappropriation of funds, shutting down businesses, and other issues. Calling a special session would help to shift the blame away from his tyrannical edicts which destroyed businesses and churches by his essential/nonessential language and orders.
Other important information regarding the special session include:
- The health emergency called, and continued, by Governor Little could have been ended by the legislature. A joint-resolution was passed by the House to end the state of emergency. This resolution used some of the exact language of the Governor’s proclamation, to stay within the topics outlined in the proclamation. However, the Senate voted unanimously to NOT take up this resolution. This means that not one Senator was willing to stand with the House to end the Governor’s emergency. Apparently to provide cover for themselves and their unwillingness to end the emergency, Senators passed a Senate resolution about the emergency but not to end the emergency. ONLY a joint resolution can end an emergency.
- Thanks to Representative Priscilla Giddings, a bill was passed to guarantee all Idahoans the ability to vote in person.
- A bill was passed to allow County Clerks to open absentee ballots 7 days prior to November 3rd for only this 2020 general election. If a County Clerk chooses to do this, the ballots must be stored in an electronic-access-controlled room and under 24-hour surveillance. The video is required to be live streamed and archived for 90 days.
- There were many drafts of bad immunity bills introduced into the legislature. A watered-down immunity bill was passed to give businesses and schools more confidence that they can’t be sued for damage or an injury resulting from exposure of an individual to coronavirus. Many lawyers I have spoken with say this bill doesn’t do much to change the laws that are currently in place. That is good, because most of the earlier drafts of this bill were drafted by large corporate lobbyists and didn’t have citizen’s best interest in mind. Based on my observations, it appears that the following likely occurred regarding the immunity legislation issue.
- “Through researching this, I believe the Alex Chairman Chaney is speaking of is Alex LeBeau of IACI. IACI recently employed Corey Surber as of June 2020, who had worked for the past 27 years at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Ctr. as their first woman to Chair Influential Business Group. As you are aware, many hospitals denied family access to their ill and dying family members. Many of their loved ones died alone. This alone could create significant liability for the hospitals in regards to families suffering emotional duress. Mr. Alex LeBeau receives quarterly reports from the American Tort Reform Association. This association represents hundreds of US and foreign corporations. In the report from 1/07/2019- 3/22/2019 The American Tort Reform Association specifically named Mr. Kenneth R. McClure, coordinator of the Idaho Liability Reform coalition and Mr. Alex Lebeau of IACI a concern over a lawsuit that was filed against St. Lukes, Harret vs St.Lukes, in which St.Lukes had to pay out over 3.85 million to the family. I believe one aspect of this Immunity Bill is designed to protect the corporations, more specifically, the hospitals from impending lawsuits.”
- The Executive Branch teamed with an establishment-friendly lobby group known for its cronyism – the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (IACI) to draft the immunity bill. Conveniently, many IACI members would be the “enforcers” of his unconstitutional edicts. One constituent sent me this email concerning the immunity bill:
- The original bill made enforcers out of business owners and gave immunity for actions taken in “good faith” to address or ameliorate a disaster or emergency. There was no definition of what “good faith meant. It also gave government immunity and gave immunity to businesses that would enforce government mandated orders or rules no matter what the damage to individuals.
- Citizens discovered early on that this was an attempt by government to protect themselves and their crony corporations and began demanding that government and businesses did not get immunity for bad behavior and damages. I believe their efforts of raising awareness to their legislators and the public did make a difference on this immunity bill.
- Citizens showed up en masse to share testimony on how the emergency had affected them. They wanted to be heard and refused to be silenced. The Speaker of the House had the chamber doors shut in an attempt to keep out many of the citizens. A struggle between citizens attempting to gain entry and police officers trying to keep them out resulted in a shattered glass door. Another incident involved the same chairman from a “working group” who allowed citizens to sit in an area of the room one day for committee hearings but on the second day told folks they couldn’t sit there. When they asked why and complained, he had plenty of officers ready to escort them away. One angry man refused to comply with the officer’s order to leave the room, so he was arrested. These events did not define the session but did do a great job in distracting from the Governor and his lobbyists actions.
The Election is November 3rd Will You Be Receiving an Absentee Ballot? Almost 40% of the Registered Voters Will, Some Unknowingly.
- In May, Governor Little violated the constitution by changing election laws, forcing all Idahoans to request an absentee ballot if they wanted to vote. When many citizens signed the paperwork (or requested online) to receive their absentee ballot in the primary, they may (and likely did) check the box to also absentee vote in the general election in November.
If you checked that box, YOU WILL receive an absentee ballot and be expected to vote absentee this year. Most primary voters checked that box, almost 40% of voters statewide!!
If you have questions or concerns about whether you are signed up to be an absentee voter, please go to this link to check to see if you signed up for an absentee ballot for this election: LINK to MY VOTER INFO
You may need to try to enter your information a couple of times to get results (I did!). Don’t give up!
What can you do if you no longer want to absentee vote, but want to show up in person on election day?
I have had several calls from angry voters who do not want to absentee vote, but signed up by accident in the May primary. I would recommend you stick with whatever you signed up for in order to reduce confusion for county clerks. If you absolutely want to vote in person, but checked the box, you can take your official absentee ballot to your polling location on election day and ask them to “spoil the ballot.” They will destroy your ballot and issue you an identical ballot and you can vote in person.
- Absentee ballots are already being mailed out, and if you get one in the mail, please do not ignore it.
- You can return your absentee ballot as soon as you receive it. The sooner the better for our election offices due to the enormous volume expected this year. If you are afraid to mail it, you can drop it off at County Clerk’s office.
- Remember, you can visit your County Clerk’s website to see a sample ballot.
There Will Be a Question on Your Ballot to Change the Constitution of Idaho
The Idaho Constitution currently sets the number of legislative districts and the number of Idaho senators to be within a range of not less than 30 nor more than 35 members (and this is the same for districts). It also designates that the number of House of Representative members to be two times as many members as the Senate. If passed, House Joint Resolution 4 (HJR4) would make a change to this language to permanently set the number of legislative districts to 35 and the number of senators to 35 (with twice as many representatives). Since 1992 there have been 35 legislative districts in Idaho. After the 2020 national census, there will be a change in district boundary lines. There is a re-districting committee set up to change legislative districts in Idaho. I voted against this proposed amendment in session because I found it unnecessary, I believe it hurts rural areas, and I would like to eventually see one Senator per county to balance the state’s rural vs. urban community representation.
That is all for now. If you are new to my mailing, you can read past newsletters at this link (Link to Heather’s Past Newsletters). New folks can subscribe at this same link. Have a great weekend!