Four months and two days ago I sat in the House gallery to watch Gov. Brad Little give his State of the State Address on the first day of the session. Today, I sat in the same place to watch the final moments.

Today was somewhat anticlimactic after last week’s drama. I learned just as the Senate convened at 11am that Gov. Little had signed H710, the library bill, which meant there would be no dramatic debate regarding a potential override. Last year, Little vetoed H314 and the House fell one vote short of overriding it.

The latest library bill isn’t perfect. Ideally, we could simply remove the affirmative defense for teachers and librarians with regards to distributing material that the law considers harmful to minors. However, it is a reasonable compromise. It simply instructs schools and libraries to publish a relocation form that allows patrons to bring such materials to their attention. In cases of disagreement, a judge will decide if it meets the legal standard.

That did not stop Democrats from acting as if the world had come to an end, of course.

The governor did veto two Senate bills. S1314 would have allowed the State Treasurer to invest a small amount of the state’s holdings in gold. It passed after contentious debate, but Little vetoed the bill and noted the potential storage costs. I suspect that he, like several of the lawmakers who debated against the bill, did not want to do anything that could possibly benefit a certain local business that is building a new depository for precious metals in Eagle. Money Metals Exchange has become known for supporting conservatives in Idaho.

Gov. Little also vetoed S1323, which would have reduced the regulatory scope of the Public Utilities Commission. He worried that the bill would allow certain water companies to gain monopoly powers.

The Senate did not bother attempting to override the veto on S1314. Though it passed the Senate 25-9-1, it was well short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto in the House. It was sent without objection back to committee to be put to rest.

The Senate voted 17-17-1 on S1323, which also fell short of a two-thirds majority.

One of the most contentious issues of the last few weeks was the potential sale of the Idaho Transportation Department campus on State St. The Legislature finally passed two budget bills that denied the sale on the final day, and those were the final two bills left on the governor’s desk this morning. In the end, he allowed them to become law without his signature. Unlike at the federal level, which has a pocket veto, bills in Idaho automatically become law if not signed in five days.

The governor transmitted a letter regarding the two bills, saying that they were necessary to fund new transportation projects but he did not agree with unwinding the sale.

The last business of the day was for the House to pass S1460, the new appropriations budget for the IDHW Division of Welfare. The Senate killed the previous version of this budget two weeks ago, mostly due to the Summer EBT program which had been introduced by the Biden Administration. The new bill still funded SNAP and TANF and everything else that is already part of our welfare system. Rep. Brooke Green debated against the bill, saying that Idaho children would go hungry this summer without this new government program.

The bill passed 33-32-5. Watching the vote board from the gallery, the bill looked destined to fail, which would likely have kept lawmakers in Boise for several more hours at least. At the last minute, several representatives flipped from red to green.

With that, the chambers concurred and agreed it was time to go. Both adjourned sine die — that means without day, as opposed to the usual method of adjourning until the next morning. Short of an emergency session, this was the end of the 67th session of the Idaho State Legislature.

This was also the end of the line for several lawmakers. Sen. Abby Lee and Reps. Mike Kingsley, Sage Dixon, Chris Allgood, and Lauren Necochea have all decided not to run for reelection. Rep. Sue Chew, who has been absent all year due to her battle with cancer, is also not running again.

There will be time in the next week or two to dissect the session and see what went well and what went awry. I will be awarding my 2024 legislative awards soon as well. Idaho Freedom Foundation will have a new edition of the Freedom Index out soon. Now is a time to transition into campaign mode. We have seen how our lawmakers have voted, now it’s time to hold them to account. Who deserves another term? Who deserves to be defeated? The next chapter is up to you!

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