Little will temporarily reinstate agency rules

A top aide to Gov. Brad Little is promising no delay in government services as Little’s staff works to temporarily reauthorize thousands of pages worth of agency rules this summer.

The Legislature created confusion when it adjourned the session April 11 without passing the traditional bill to formalize its work to approve agency rules.

Alex Adams, Little’s administrator of the Division of Financial Management, confirmed the Legislature’s inaction would result in all agency rules expiring on July 1 if Little doesn’t intervene.

But Adams said that won’t happen. Little plans to reauthorize the rules, individual docket by docket.

“What that process looks like is the republishing of temporary and proposed rules, concurrently, prior to expiration on July 1,” Adams said Wednesday.

Rules are important because they carry the full force and effect of law. When the 2019 legislative session began in January, there were about 8,200 pages worth of rules.

Rules affect the lives of everyday Idahoans in numerous ways, especially in education circles. Academic standards were enacted via agency rule, as were some graduation requirements, state fees, immunization guidelines and Medicaid and Health and Welfare rules.

Adams suggested Little may not reauthorize all 8,200 pages of rules and may look to remove “some low-hanging fruit,” such as outdated or duplicative rules.

But educators, students and their parents should not worry, he said.

“Education is not one of those topics under discussion (for removing rules),” Adams said.

“People should rest assured the rules will continue with the full force and effect of law,” Adams said. “Idahoans would not notice a difference in their daily lives, and there will be no disruption in state services.”

There was so much confusion over the future of agency rules that officials from the State Board of Education and Administrative Rules Coordinator Dennis Stevenson declined to comment on the situation this week, saying they were awaiting guidance from Little’s office.

During a news conference Wednesday, Little stressed that he will not call a special legislative session to force lawmakers to act on rules.

“The standard for a special session is if something absolutely, necessarily needs to take place in the state,” Little said.

Regarding the Legislature’s inaction on the rules bills, Senate Bills 1205 and 1215, Little conceded that “we didn’t ask for this,” and “it was not my first choice.” But he did tell reporters he has the authority to reissue rules on a temporary basis.

Adams said the reauthorization process is already underway. He also sought to clear up a few points:

  • All of the rules the Legislature approved this year took effect upon adjournment of the session April 11. Those rules would expire July 1, if Little doesn’t intervene. But Little will intervene.
  • Additionally, all of the existing rules — even the ones on the books for years — would also be set to expire if Little didn’t intervene.
  • As part of public notice requirements, the state will need to publish legal notice of the rulemaking process in the Administrative Bulletin. Adams said “it is conceivable this could be an 8,200-page publication.”
  • Idaho does have an electronic bulletin, so the cost of providing public notice “isn’t as high as people thought,” Adams said. However, the state intends to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act, and there is a requirement that legal notification will need to occur in Idaho newspapers.
  • By Little publishing the rules as “temporary and proposed” concurrently, all the rules will come back to the 2020 Legislature for review as pending rules. Because they will be treated as pending rules, both chambers of the Legislature would not need to approve them, only one. However, both chambers of the Legislature will need to sign off on pending fee rules, which are treated a little differently.

“We will do everything we can to ensure it is smooth and seamless and business as usual,” Adams said.


Clark Corbin

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