Law & Courts

Idaho Governor Vetoes Bible-in-Schools Bill

By Clark Corbin, Idaho Education News — April 06, 2016 2 min read
Flanked by legislators, and members of the state House and Senate leadership, Gov. Butch Otter offers his analysis of the session that ended on March 28.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Gov. Butch Otter issued his first vetoes of the year Tuesday afternoon, killing the closely watched Bible-in-schools bill.

In vetoing the bill, Otter aligned with Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who had warned that the bill would violate the Idaho Constitution. While Otter and Wasden have publicly sparred in recent days over the demise of the Idaho Education Network contract, Otter echoed Wasden’s concerns over the Bible bill.

“I have deep respect and appreciation for the Bible as a religious doctrine as well as a piece of historic literature,” Otter wrote in a veto message addressed to Secretary of State Lawerence Denney. “However, allowing S1342 to become law is in direct contravention to the Idaho Constitution, and it could result in a loss of funding and costly litigation for Idaho public schools.”

Pushed by Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, Senate Bill 1342 would have allowed teachers to use the Bible and other religious texts in public school classrooms as a reference.

Current law already allows teachers to use the Bible, and the leaders of several education groups have said there has been no confusion about the matter. However, Nuxoll and other supporters said the bill was necessary to clarify the issue and ease educators’ fears.

Opponents, including some legislators, claimed the bill was clearly unconstitutional and would only lead to costly litigation. Other lawmakers downplayed the issue. “The little Supreme Court in my head says it’s OK,” said Rep. Sage Dixon, a Ponderay Republican and House sponsor of SB 1342, during floor debate on March 21.

After Senate leaders agreed on amendments, including a reference addressing the use of “other religious texts” the Bible bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan 31-3 vote. Two weeks later, it passed the House, 54-15.

Otter issued the veto on the final day that he was allowed to act on the bill — and more than a week after the Legislature left town. The bill reached Otter’s desk on March 24, the day the Senate adjourned for the year and a day before the House adjourned.

Otter had three options for handling the Bible bill. He could have signed it into law, vetoed it or allowed it to become law without his signature.

Moments after vetoing the Bible bill, Otter informed Denney he also vetoed a funding bill designed to align with a failed bill that aimed to provide healthcare coverage to Idahoans falling in the so-called Medicaid gap.

Related Tags:

This story was produced by Idaho Education News, an independent, online source for comprehensive news, information, commentary, and data about K-12 education in Idaho.

Events

School & District Management Webinar Fostering Student Well-Being with Programs That Work
Protecting student well-being has never been more important. Join this webinar to learn how to ensure your programs yield the best outcomes.
Reading & Literacy Webinar 'Science of Reading': What Are the Components?
Learn how to adopt a “science of reading” approach to early literacy to effectively build students’ vocabulary and content knowledge.
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Effective Communication for School Leaders: A Forum
Join us for an afternoon of discussions on how school and district leaders can motivate staff, make the most of social media, and more.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts Maine Opts Out of $440M Multistate Settlement With Juul
Maine was not willing to agree to Juul's condition that would have barred school districts from suing the company.
1 min read
A cashier displays a packet of tobacco-flavored Juul pods at a store in San Francisco on June 17, 2019.
A cashier displays a packet of tobacco-flavored Juul pods at a store in San Francisco on June 17, 2019.
Samantha Maldonado/AP
Law & Courts Maine OKs First Religious School for Tuition Reimbursement
A Supreme Court ruling had ordered the state to treat religious schools the same as other private schools regarding tuition reimbursement.
1 min read
The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, Monday, June 27, 2022.
The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, Monday, June 27, 2022.
Patrick Semansky/AP
Law & Courts A School Librarian Pushes Back on Censorship and Gets Death Threats and Online Harassment
Amanda Jones lost her legal battle against online harassers this week but vows to continue to press her case.
7 min read
Amanda Jones, a librarian in Livingston Parish, La., pictured on Sept. 13, 2022. Jones is suing members of a Facebook group who harassed her virtually after she spoke against censorship in a public library meeting. Jones received angry emails and even a death threat from people across the country after she filed the lawsuit.
Amanda Jones, a librarian in Livingston Parish, La., is suing members of a Facebook group who harassed her virtually after she spoke against censorship in a public library meeting.
Claire Bangser for Education Week
Law & Courts Affirmative Action Cases Lead What Could Prove Another Momentous Supreme Court Term
The cases on race in college admissions could affect K-12. The justices will also weigh copyright, American Indian law, and LGBTQ rights.
7 min read
The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, Monday, June 27, 2022.
The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, Monday, June 27, 2022.
Patrick Semansky/AP