Five days after adjourning “sine die,” the Idaho House was back to work Monday afternoon.
The House, which was called back because the Senate failed to concur with its “sine die” motion within three days, is working through several Senate budget bills.
This is the third time the House is considering eight of the budget bills. Gov. Butch Otter vetoed the bills the fist time.
The House, in its quest to adjourn, then ran the bills through the Appropriations Committee — a break from the typical joint committee procedure. Those bills were held in the Senate Finance Committee on Monday afternoon.
These bills (the third ones) are the ones that passed through the Joint Finance-Appropriations process. They are passing easily and will simply replace the ones that passed through the Appropriations Committee.
The House also passed a worker’s compensation bill during its session Monday.
"We have acted again on all of the legislation that the Senate has in their wisdom sent over," said Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley.
Bedke said the Senate has six more budget bills that the House is waiting for.
"We stand ready to accept those bills tomorrow. Ask our friends across the rotunda to process those bills," he said. "... From my perspective, the ball is now out of this side of the court and lies elsewhere."
House Republican leadership is planning a 3 p.m. press conference. The House adjourned until Tuesday afternoon.
The Senate met earlier today and has adjourned until Tuesday morning.
More on Finance Committee's decision
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said the House's approval of a dozen spending bills introduced only by the House Appropriations Committee was a violation of both the law and legislative rules. The Idaho Legislature's budget committee meets as a joint 20-member panel called the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.
The Finance Committee voted 10-0 to kill the House bills based on Cameron's argument that spending bills must be considered by the joint committee. "In my judgment it makes it perfectly clear," he said.
Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene, said, "The important thing we're doing today is preserving the sanctity of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee."
Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, said rejecting the House-only bills was important to erase any precedent generated by the House's decision to print and pass the 12 bills as part of the split between the House and Senate over fuel taxes. The bills were among 33 vetoed by Gov. Butch Otter as part of his press to keep lawmakers in session until they agree to a tax increase.
Cameron cited Senate rules as well as Idaho Code 67-3513 and Idaho Code 67-3514. The latter says, "The joint committees of the Legislature in charge of appropriations measures, after considering the budget requests required by section 67-3502, Idaho Code, shall prepare and introduce appropriation bills covering the requirements of the various departments, offices and institutions of the state."
— Dan Popkey
No hint of compromise at Capitol Annex
House Republican leaders said they plan to convene the House at 1:30 p.m. and do, well, not much.
The House calendar is blank at the moment, though the Senate has passed several budget bills that need to be transmitted to the House.
Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, said the House would convene and then go at ease until it has some action from the Senate.
In talking with some House leaders, it appears that the House will not adjourn “sine die” — adjourn for the session — again. The House adjourned “sine die” on Wednesday, but since the Senate did not concur, the House is back at work Monday.
But House members have also given no indication that they are ready to agree to Gov. Butch Otter’s demands for more money for highway maintenance. Otter wants $75 million. The House has given him roughly $25 million.
Otter wants a gas tax to make up the difference. The House voted six times against a gas tax.
House Republican leaders are planning a press conference at 3 p.m. They are expected to challenge Otter’s assessment that the economy is recovering and that April’s state revenue numbers were “better than expected.”
“We are still in a recession. We have not hit bottom. There has been no turnaround yet,” said Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley.
House Republican leaders also said they might consider asking that the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee reconvene to deal with declining revenue numbers. Senate Republican leaders said they were not interested in reconvening the committee.
Also, The Idaho Values Alliance and Tea Party Idaho are hosting an anti-gas tax rally at noon on the front steps of the Capitol Annex. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, is on the list of speakers as is Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth.