BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho House came to a surprise halt Monday after far-right lawmakers took aim at bills to bring the state's notary public procedures in line with other states — measures they fear could erode the nation's and Idaho's sovereignty.
That faction of Idaho's GOP tends to be suspicious of bills from the Uniform Law Commission — a group of roughly 300 attorneys, judges, professors and legislators who draft model laws to ease interstate and international interactions — because they worry the bills could promote a "global planning" agenda.
Other lawmakers have said those concerns are unfounded. Nevertheless, two years ago Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter had to call a special legislative session after the same small group of far-right wing favorites tanked a child support bill because of its ties to the commission. Despite being chided by legislative leaders, those fears have failed to stop swirling inside the Statehouse.
"I do not think that we as Idaho legislators should be abdicating our responsibilities to a group of lawyers who believe in centralized planning for the entire country and for foreign government," said Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard. "And so for that reason alone, I'll be voting against this bill."
But before the House could vote on the update bill on Monday, freshman Rep. Priscilla Giddings of White Bird objected to a routine request to skip the reading of the entire bill. Lawmakers in the past have done this as a sign of protest, but the state's newest far-right wing members say they want the bills read to improve transparency and show voters their lawmakers know what they're voting on.
However, the House retaliated against Giddings by voting to force her read the 21-page bill in front of the entire body. Just eight lawmakers opposed having Giddings, not the House clerk, read the bill.
House Majority Leader Mike Moyle also took advantage of a separate House rule that barred all 70 House members from leaving the floor while the bill was read out loud.
It took Giddings more than an hour to read the full proposal, which then led to a short debate.
"The purpose behind this was to allow electronic notaries," said Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise. "And as the Secretary of State was looking at this, they felt this was a good time to update our notary law."
States aren't required to adopt the model laws, but they usually do because they address uniform codes, such as commercial practices or child custody. This bill would recognize electronic signatures and electronic document transfer, but it does not allow remote notarizing.
HB 209 passed 63-7 and now goes to the Idaho Senate.