982 P.2d 358 (Idaho 1999), 25125, Idaho Watersheds Project v. State Board of Land Commissioners

Docket Nº:25125.
Citation:982 P.2d 358, 133 Idaho 55
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:In The Matter of the Verified Petition for Writ of Prohibition. IDAHO WATERSHEDS PROJECT and Jon MARVEL, Petitioners, v. STATE BOARD OF LAND COMMISSIONERS, comprised of Phil Batt, Governor, Pete T. Cenarrusa, Secretary of State, Alan G. Lance, Attorney General, J.D. Williams, State Controller, and Anne C. Fox, Superintendent of Public Instruction,
Attorney:Laurence (Laird) J. Lucas, Boise, for petitioners. Hon. Alan G. Lance, Attorney General; David G. High, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. David G. High argued.
Case Date:April 02, 1999
Court:Supreme Court of Idaho
 
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982 P.2d 358 (Idaho 1999)

133 Idaho 55

In The Matter of the Verified Petition for Writ of Prohibition.

IDAHO WATERSHEDS PROJECT and Jon MARVEL, Petitioners,

v.

STATE BOARD OF LAND COMMISSIONERS, comprised of Phil Batt, Governor, Pete T. Cenarrusa, Secretary of State, Alan G. Lance, Attorney General, J.D. Williams, State Controller, and Anne C. Fox, Superintendent of Public Instruction, all in their official capacities; Lydia Justice Edwards, Treasurer, State of Idaho, in her official capacity; the Investment Board, an agency or instrumentality of the State of Idaho; and Idaho Department of Lands, an agency of the State of Idaho, Respondents.

No. 25125.

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise.

April 2, 1999.

Rehearing Denied Aug. 3, 1999.

Laurence (Laird) J. Lucas, Boise, for petitioners.

Hon. Alan G. Lance, Attorney General; David G. High, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. David G. High argued.

Before SILAK, Justice, SCHROEDER, Justice, WALTERS, Justice, JOHNSON, Justice Pro Tem, and BURDICK, Justice Pro Tem.

PER CURIAM.

This is an original proceeding challenging the constitutionality of House Joint Resolution No. 6 (H.J.R.6) which proposed amendments to Article 9, § 4 and § 8 of the Idaho Constitution.

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I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The Idaho Watersheds Project (IWP) is a nonprofit organization which states that its purpose is improving the financial returns and ecological conditions on school endowment lands. Since 1993, IWP has submitted applications to the State Land Board and Department of Lands for leases on state endowment lands, 1 and IWP has sought to compete at auction over contested leases. The efforts of IWP have led to several appeals before this Court which involve the "public auction" provision in Article 9, § 8 of the Idaho Constitution.

In 1993, IWP submitted an application to lease endowment lands and won at auction when the prior lessee refused to bid. The Land Board, however, awarded the lease to the prior lessee. On appeal, this Court held that the Land Board "does not have the discretion to grant a lease to an applicant who does not place a bid at an auction, based upon Idaho's constitutional and statutory mandate that the Board conduct an auction." Idaho Watersheds Project v. State Bd. of Land Comm'rs, 128 Idaho 761, 766, 918 P.2d 1206, 1211 (1996) (IWP I). In 1994, IWP again submitted lease applications, won several of the auctions against prior lessees, and again the Board refused to award any lease to IWP on various grounds.

In 1995, the Idaho Legislature enacted section 58-310B of the Idaho Code which authorizes the Land Board to avoid holding auctions over competing lease applications if it determines that an applicant is not "qualified" to go to auction. The purpose of the enactment is to "encourag[e] a healthy Idaho livestock industry." I.C. § 58-310B(2)(a) (1995); see also I.C. §§ 58-310B(4) and 58-301B(6). In June 1995, IWP submitted sixteen new lease applications, all but two of which were denied. IWP appealed, arguing that the Land Board is required to conduct public auctions pursuant to Article 9,§ 8. See 133 Idaho 68, 982 P.2d 371 (1999). In 1996, IWP again submitted applications for leases on state endowment lands, and again the Land Board refused to hold auctions over most of them pursuant to I.C. § 58-310B. IWP again appealed. See 133 Idaho 64, 982 P.2d 367 (1999).

House Joint Resolution (H.J.R.) 6 was adopted by the Idaho Legislature in 1998. H.J.R. 6 proposes to amend two separate sections of Article 9 of the Idaho Constitution. Section 1 of H.J.R. 6 proposes several amendments to Article 9, § 4, which may be summarized as follows:

1. Change the name of the "Public School Endowment Fund" to the "Public School Permanent Endowment Fund";

2. Provide that proceeds from the sale of public school endowment lands and amounts allocated from the Public School Earnings Fund be included in the Public School Permanent Endowment Fund;

3. Create a new "Land Bank Fund"; and

4. Provide for deposit into the Land Bank Fund proceeds from the sale of endowment lands, to be used within a period of time set by the legislature to acquire other lands for the benefit of endowment beneficiaries.

Section 2 of H.J.R. 6 proposed to amend Article 9, § 8 of the Idaho Constitution. This section of H.J.R. 6 proposed to delete the word "disposal" and replace it with the word "sale" so that the relevant phrase would read: "the general grants of land made by congress to the state shall be ... subject to sale at public auction."

Section 3 of H.J.R. 6 specifies that the following "ballot question" be presented to the electorate:

"Shall Section 4, Article 9, and Section 8, Article 9, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended as follows:

1. To change the name of the Public School Fund to the Public School Permanent Endowment Fund;

2. To provide that the Public School Permanent Endowment Fund shall include proceeds from the sale of school lands and

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amounts allocated from the Public School Earnings Reserve Fund;

3. To provide an exception that proceeds from the sale of school lands may be deposited into a Land Bank Fund to be used to acquire other lands within the state for the benefit of endowment beneficiaries, but if those proceeds are not used to acquire other lands within a time provided by the legislature the proceeds of the sale shall be deposited into the Public School Permanent Endowment Fund along with earnings on the proceeds; and

4. To change the word disposal to sale in reference to the disposition of certain lands?".

Section 4 of H.J.R. 6 directs the Legislative Council "to prepare the statements required by Section 67-453, Idaho Code, and file the same." Section 5 directs the Secretary of State to "publish this proposed constitutional amendment and arguments as required by law." While the Secretary of State did publish the "ballot question" set forth in Section 3 of H.J.R. 6, the Legislative Council's Statements of Meaning and Purpose, and statements for and against the proposed amendments, the actual text of the proposed amendments to Article 9, §§ 4 and 8, as contained in H.J.R. 6, was never published prior to the submission of H.J.R. 6 to the electorate. 2

H.J.R. 6 was approved by the voters on November 3, 1998. On November 18, 1998, IWP and John Marvel filed a petition for writ of prohibition barring the implementation of H.J.R. 6 based on claims that H.J.R. 6 was illegally presented to the electorate. The petition for writ of prohibition was argued on an expedited basis on December 16, 1998.

II.

JURISDICTION

This Court has original jurisdiction, pursuant to Article 5, § 9 of the Idaho Constitution, "to issue writs of mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, and habeas corpus, and all writs necessary or proper to the complete exercise of its appellate jurisdiction." Idaho Const. art. V, § 9. We will exercise jurisdiction to review a petition for extraordinary relief where the petition alleges sufficient facts concerning a possible constitutional violation of an urgent nature. See Nez Perce Tribe v. Cenarrusa, 125 Idaho 37, 38, 867 P.2d 911, 912 (1993) (citing Sweeney v. Otter, 119 Idaho 135, 138, 804 P.2d 308, 311 (1990)); see also Balderston v. Brady, 17 Idaho 567, 107 P. 493 (1910). In reviewing the constitutionality of H.J.R. 6, we limit our review to a determination of the constitutionality of the methods and procedures utilized in the passage of H.J.R. 6. See Mead v. Arnell, 117 Idaho 660, 664, 791 P.2d 410, 414 (1990).

III.

ISSUES ON APPEAL

Petitioners submit the following issues in support of the petition for writ of prohibition:

1. Whether H.J.R. 6 violated Article 20, § 1 of the Idaho Constitution and I.C. § 67-913 in that the actual text of the proposed amendments was never published.

2. Whether H.J.R. 6 violates Article 20, § 1 of the Idaho Constitution, I.C. § 67-453, and/or the state and federal due process guarantees as a result of allegedly misleading statements and explanations that were presented to the electorate for consideration of the ballot measure.

3. Whether H.J.R. 6 unconstitutionally violates Article 20, § 2 of the Idaho Constitution.

IV.

ANALYSIS

A. Because The Alleged Procedural Defects Were Not Misleading, The Statutory And Constitutional Challenges To These Procedures Are Time Barred Because They Were Not Presented Before The Election.

In presenting H.J.R. 6 to the electorate for public approval, the legislature was required to follow the procedures set forth in Article

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[133 Idaho 58] 20 of the Idaho Constitution andsections 67-913 and 67-453 of the Idaho Code. Petitioners argue that H.J.R. 6 should be declared invalid for failing to comply with procedural requirements of...

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