You are essential, no matter what anyone, any leader or any official says. Your work is essential to your family, community and to our state’s economy. Government should never get in the way of that. Your elected Republican leaders in the House and Senate are working to make sure you are never deemed anything less than essential. This is the reason and focus of what we are doing with a new package of legislation.
These bills are not our idea. These ideas come from you. Whether it was emails, calls or in-person conversations, the question we have been asked by our constituents over and over is, “What can you do to end the emergency declaration?” Now that we are in session, we have the opportunity address this question by working to change the law.
When the current system was created decades ago, no one could have expected the need to drag out an emergency declaration for nearly a year. The circumstances of 2020 stress-tested our system, and we have found numerous inadequacies. The Legislature’s proposed changes in these new bills will re-balance the powers of your state government, so that the executive and legislative branches are equal, as our forefathers intended.
This last year, your Legislature was left out of this emergency declaration process. This cannot happen again. Your voices are heard through our legislative votes and we will not allow you to be silenced. To address the concerns that we are hearing, we have crafted a piece of legislation that would immediately end the current state of emergency and limit all future disaster emergency declarations to 30 days, unless your Legislature votes to extend them if needed.
Another bill we are working on would allow your Legislature to call itself into special session, so we could debate disaster declarations and decide how to best spend federal money associated with the disasters. One bill proposal would prohibit the governor, any governor, from suspending the rights of our citizens in an emergency. That means the government could not keep you from going to church, running your business or exercising your 2nd amendment rights.
You are essential. Together, your House and Senate Republicans are making sure we can do the work you elected us to do. Over the past year, many of our communities, businesses and families have suffered and many of us have lost friends and loved ones because of the hardships caused by the pandemic. We all are facing some incredible challenges and we need to step up to meet those challenges. The House and Senate Republicans will also step up to the challenges of protecting the rights and freedoms Idahoans enjoy. These legislative proposals that we are jointly working on will allow your elected leaders to rebalance government powers and safeguard your voice in the legislature. We hear your voice, and we serve you. All Idahoans are essential, and we take the responsibility to represent you seriously.
Megan Blanksma is House Majority Caucus Chair. Mark Harris is Senate Majority Caucus Chair.