Firm slap at Idaho gubernatorial power unlikely to advance, say GOP leaders

House Speaker Scott Bedke says he’ll probably assign a bill limiting a governor’s power to fill vacancies in the Legislature, but House Bill 585 likely won’t get a hearing.

The measure, authored by Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, was introduced Monday. It would strip from Idaho governors the power to choose among three nominees submitted by party committees to fill vacancies, forcing the chief executive to appoint a single nominee.

The statement of purpose on Boyle’s bill says it will “provide for the Constitutionally protected separation of powers between the Legislative and Executive branches.”

In January, GOP Gov. Butch Otter passed over former Senate Majority Leader Rod Beck, the top choice of the District 15 Republican Committee to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of former Rep. Mark Patterson of Boise. Instead, Otter named the committee’s No. 2 choice — former U.S. Marshal Patrick McDonald — to complete the second year of Patterson’s term.

When HB 585 reached the floor, Bedke had it held at the desk, a parliamentary move that can mean the death of a bill. But Bedke said Thursday he expects to assign the meausure to the House State Affairs Committee.

“I wanted to take a look at it,” Bedke said. “I’m not going to support it, but I’ll probably send it to State Affairs.”

State Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, said he doubts he’ll hold a hearing before the Legislature adjourns for 2014.

Asked why, Loertscher said, “Do I need a reason? It’s the end of the session.”

Asked if he supported the idea, Loertscher said, “I don’t think it has a lot to do with whether I like it or not; I think it has to do with the fact that the governor will probably veto it because he won’t like it.”

Boyle’s bill does not address the governor’s power to fill vacancies for other offices, including U.S. Senate, the state’s six other statewide offices and county commissioners. Neither does HB 585 address the appointment of judges, a non-partisan process in which the Idaho Judicial Council submits to the governor between two and four names.




Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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