The Idaho House and Senate each adjourned Friday through the end of next week to give them time to await possible vetoes from Republican Gov. Brad Little.
“It’s difficult to override a veto,” said Republican Senate President pro-Tem Chuck Winder. “But we think that’s the only way we’re going to do it if we hang out for five days,” through March 31.
Winder said one of the bills yet to be signed by the governor is the coronavirus pause bill. It passed both houses by a wide margin, but without veto security in the House of Representatives. The legislation would prevent most Idaho private and public entities from discriminating against people who have not received the coronavirus vaccine.
There are several other bills that could also be vetoed. Little has vetoed two bills so far this year.
The two chambers worked through the final budget bills before adjourning just before midnight on Friday. The Republican-dominated House of Representatives rejected a Democrat attempt to adjourn the year.
Both houses late Friday passed a $7.7 million budget for the Library Commission, the latest budget bill that both houses approved. That’s a cut of about $4 million from the original allocation after right-wing lawmakers said libraries contained pornographic material.
The cuts included $3.5 million in government funding for virus relief and $307,000 in government funding for e-books. Some of the federal money would have helped rural areas set up telehealth connections for local residents.
Democrats mostly opposed the cuts and said Republicans would punish libraries for standing up in their defense, a reference to Republican Rep. Julianne Young.
She previously cited an Idaho Library Association email to members expressing her opposition to a Republican-backed bill that would fine librarians $1,000 and send them to prison for a year , if they allowed minors to borrow “harmful materials”. This bill passed the House of Representatives, but did not find a hearing in the Senate.
“It is deeply dangerous, one of the most dangerous things I’ve seen in my time here, and that was specifically the prosecution of people who exercised their sacred First Amendment right to seek redress from their government,” she said Democratic House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel to argue against a budget cut.
Democrats said the failure of the librarian fines bill prompted Republicans to target the Libraries Commission’s budget.
“In my opinion, this is nothing short of a vicious, vindictive bill,” said Democratic Rep. Steve Berch. “I think this bill says we solve problems by punishing people.”
Republican Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy said the Libraries Commission’s budget sees no cuts in the state’s general fund or specific funds for libraries, only cuts in federal funds.
“I believe libraries are a cornerstone of our small communities, and I don’t want to do anything to hurt that,” she said. “I don’t think anyone on this board would care either. This is not about freedom of expression. It’s about giving libraries the tools they need to do their jobs.”