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When will legislators adjourn? It depends

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

In Idaho, lawmakers are about ready to wrap up business. Probably. Maybe.

While the legislative session is supposed to last 75-90 days, technically there is no time limit on how long legislators could be in Boise. If lawmakers don't finish a few outstanding budgets, they could stay in session for longer.

In Washington, there is a time limit - 105 days during odd numbered years. But while the regular session ends then, lawmakers in Olympia have often extended into special sessions.

Montana lawmakers only meet every other year - for 90 business days - meaning they don't adjourn until mid-May.

Idaho is one of the small number of states that doesn't have a time limit on sessions (Illinois, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Michigan are the others). Occasionally, that means longer sessions. In 2021, for example, Idaho legislators were officially in session from January until November as lawmakers grappled with COVID shutdowns and emergency powers. While the Senate had finished its work in the Spring, the House reconvened in the Fall and officially gaveled the session to a close. The session totaled 311 days.

Here are the other dates of adjournment in Idaho over the past 20 years.

  • 2022 - Adjourned March 31st

  • 2021 - Adjourned November 17th

  • 2020 - Adjourned March 20th

  • 2019 - Adjourned April 11th

  • 2018 - Adjourned March 28th

  • 2017 - Adjourned March 29th

  • 2016 - Adjourned March 25th

  • 2015 - Adjourned April 11th

  • 2014 - Adjourned March 20th

  • 2013 - Adjourned April 4th

  • 2012 - Adjourned March 29th

  • 2011 - Adjourned April 7th

  • 2010 - Adjourned March 29th

  • 2009 - Adjourned May 8th

  • 2008 - Adjourned April 2nd

  • 2007 - Adjourned March 30th

  • 2006 - Adjourned April 11th

  • 2005 - Adjourned April 6th

  • 2004 - Adjourned March 20th

  • 2003 - Adjourned May 3rd

  • 2002 - Adjourned March 15th

  • 2001 - Adjourned March 30th

Most states have legislative limits are set by the constitution, or other rules and procedures. Should there be a limit to Idaho's session? Perhaps. A regular calendar can help focus lawmakers time for debate and provide citizens a window in which they need to engage.

However, deadlines also can lead to a rush of legislation at the last minute - so it would be critical to have transparency requirements built in.

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