Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Idaho Presidential Primary Inching Toward Move to May

Time is winding down in the 2023 Idaho legislative session, and it looks like all the pieces may come together for the presidential primary to move back to May, where it stood for much of the history of the post-reform era. 

The filing of a trailing bill last week to amend H 138 cleared the way for the original bill, intended to eliminate the stand-alone March presidential primary and merge it with the primaries for other offices in May, to move forward in the Senate. On Tuesday, March 21, H 138 came off of the purgatory 14th order calendar and was read again on the Senate floor for a second time. A third and final reading is all that stands in the way of Senate passage.

And S 1186, the amending bill to add the necessary legal infrastructure to the actually place the presidential line on the May primary ballot, cleared the Senate State Affairs Committee with a Do Pass recommendation and no dissenting votes. Both bills -- the entire package of which would end the separate March presidential primary and add it to the May general primary in Idaho -- are now ready to be considered on the floor of Idaho Senate. 

Together, the package would save the state an estimated $2.7 million (from the eliminated extra primary), but the measures would also need to pass both the state Senate and head back (in the case of H 138) to the House in this likely final week of the regular legislative session. Idaho would be just the second state to change primary dates in 2023 and the first to move to a later date on the 2024 presidential primary calendar. Louisiana shifted back a few weeks for 2024 during the 2021 session.

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