BOISE, IDAHO. Due to an increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Idaho House of Representatives, House leadership immediately shut down committee meetings today. It urged the Senate to concur with their request to recess until Tuesday, April 6. There are currently no senators with COVID-19.
Article 3 of the Constitution allows the legislature to recess upon agreement through the concurrence of both bodies. The Senate has researched the legality of the pausing legislative activities through the next two weeks without risking the legislature’s ability to continue its work, should it reconvene.
There is precedent for an extended recess. In January 2000, the legislature took a two-week recess following the unexpected death of then Senate president pre tempore Jerry Twiggs.
“We are saddened to hear about the increase in cases in the House. The Senate has always understood the seriousness of Covid-19, but we respect the oath and obligation we have to do the important work of the state, and while mindful of the risks to us personally, we remain focused on the work ahead,” said Senate Majority Leader Kelly Anthon. “We are committed to finishing the people’s business but also respectfully support our House colleague’s request. We will also make sure this legislative pause is done in a way to prevent unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer dollars.”
Significant issues such as transportation funding and tax relief still need to be addressed and resolved. The Senate had already been planning for a potential recess to deal with the uncertainty on how to use the roughly $2 billion the state will receive from the American Rescue Plan Act.
“This recess still gives us time to plan for the best use of these incoming dollars to support and strengthen our state and protect our citizens. It will also give us more time to assess the impacts, requirements, and expected timeline associated with those dollars from the U.S. Treasury,” added Anthon.