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Viewpoint: Looking ahead to restart of 2021 legislative session

Speaker of the House Scott Bedke says Idaho lawmakers will focus on taking action against President Biden's vaccine mandate when they reconvene on Nov. 15.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Legislature is preparing to reconvene on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, to finish out their previous session.

Following the longest legislative session in Idaho history, all 70 members of Idaho's House of Representatives left the Statehouse without officially adjourning in May. Instead, lawmakers took a recess and left the door open to come back without having to be called back by the governor for a special session.

After six months away, Republican Speaker of the House Scott Bedke said lawmakers will mainly focus on legislation regarding President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers, contractors and private companies with 100 or more employees.

The Idaho Senate did sine die, or officially adjourn, in May. However, Senate President Pro Tempore Chuck Winder said senators can come back voluntarily and wait and see what happens in the House of Representatives.

While legislative leaders have said the focus will be on the president's vaccine mandate, lawmakers could broaden the scope and bring up other issues.

For this week's Viewpoint, Doug Petcash spoke with KTVB political correspondent Joe Parris and Idaho Press Boise Bureau Chief Betsy Russell about what to expect as far as possible legislative actions against the president's vaccine mandate.

Below are excerpts from the interview:

Betsy Russell: Some of the ideas include a bill that was approved by the Interim Committee on Federalism earlier from Senator Steve Vick. That calls for making it a misdemeanor for any Idaho official to do anything to assist the Biden Administration in carrying out its new rules in Idaho. The only problem with that is there have been some very serious legal and constitutional questions raised about that bill. And now there are different concepts in line with the intent of that bill that are being discussed.

Joe Parris: It's not a special session. They can bring up and talk about whatever they want. The question is will they actually go that way and start taking up things like education or tax reform or property tax. When I spoke to Speaker Scott Bedke he tells me that they're really not thinking this is going to come up. They have an idea from the members inside the House that they're going to talk about the vaccine mandates and things that need to be done, in their opinion, right now. The next legislative session starts in January and we're only a few months away.

Also on this edition of Viewpoint, Doug, Joe and Betsy look at some of the big issues expected to come up in the next regular legislative session that starts on Jan. 10, 2022, with Gov. Brad Little's State of the State Address. 

Viewpoint airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on KTVB. You can find past episodes on KTVB.com under the Viewpoint tab and on the KTVB YouTube channel.

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