Rules are very important, and they set Idaho apart from most other states. We are in the second week of the session and all of our committees are examining big binders of rules. What are rules and why are we working diligently on them?
Rules are the way that new laws are actually implemented. After the legislature passes a bill, and the Governor signs it, the bill is sent to the appropriate state department. So, a new education law would go to the Idaho Dept. of Ed. to have rules of implementation created, or a dairy law would go to the Dept. of Agriculture, etc. All the laws passed last session now have pending rules which need to be reviewed and approved by the legislative committees that heard the bills last year, so we can determine if the original intent of the legislation is being honored. The rules are technical, detailed language, and each one is often many pages long. In addition, there are also pages of updates or corrections to existing rules.
What’s very important is that Idaho is one of only a few states in which the legislature has the power of review and approval over the rules. This creates a balance of power between the Legislative branch of government and the Executive branch, where the state’s departments are under the direction of the Governor. We’ve been finding some interesting things tucked in the rules; close reading is essential!