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Idaho special legislative session ends after passing three new bills

Photo by Mackenzie Hudson

The Idaho legislature wrapped up a three day special session at the Idaho Statehouse. 

Gov. Brad Little initially called the special session to address any issues relating to the general election in November as well as to address liability reform during emergencies.

Three bills were passed during the session, two bills were election-related. The third is a liability bill that would shield businesses and schools from any COVID-19 related lawsuits. 

House Bill 1 would allow in-person voting to happen regardless of any emergency orders in place. Senate Bill 1001 would allow the county clerk’s more time to count the large amount of mail-in ballots for the general election. 

The third bill, House Bill 6, changes liability laws to protect businesses, schools and government agencies from people who contract COVID-19.

Sen. Mark Nye feels that the House Bill 6 had good arguments made for and against it. 

“This immunity [bill] is in effect in some other states, so we are not the first. Good arguments were made for and against this, with one side saying giving immunity might cause some [businesses] to be even less careful since they are protected,” Nye wrote. 

As reported by KTVB, House Speaker Scott Bedke said the election related bills are a win for Idaho voters. 

Bedke feels that even if the special session only accomplished the elections bills, the session would have been a success. One bill would grant Idaho voters the chance to have a place to vote in their counties, according to Bedke 

Sen. Mark Nye witnessed as the special session got off to a rocky start. He saw protesters showing up in large numbers to sit in on the hearings. Some were armed, one even had a pitchfork, according to Nye. 

“They were belligerent and some had lining rifles. They shattered the glass door to the House Chamber yelling ‘let us in, let us in!’ It wasn’t bedlam, but pretty scary,” Nye wrote. “It was close to turning into a riot and we wondered if we were safe.”

Nye was concerned for the amount of protesters that showed up to the House Gallery with no masks and did not adhere to physical distancing guidelines. 

“Other concerns were the fear of getting COVID-19 from all the crowds, and from each other in this small space,” Nye wrote. “In two weeks, we will see who gets sick and I’m certain that some will.”

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