By Hollie Conde, CVI’s Legislative and Public Lands Coordinator
Recess is nearly over. Next Tuesday, the legislature will reconvene after over two weeks off due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Statehouse. There are still many unanswered questions about how this unusual session will end. How long will it take before they call sine die? What did lawmakers work on over the recess? Will privileged committees introduce new legislation when they reconvene? Will any of Idahoans’ top issues – property tax relief, education, transportation – be addressed this session?
We’ll have to wait and see what happens. This session has been anything but typical, and there’s no telling what will happen next. We can only hope they come back, take care of mandatory business (like passing budgets), and go home as quickly as possible. So much time has been wasted on power struggles, ideological nonsense, and solutions to non-problems that much of the real work remains.
Prior to the recess, we were closely tracking several bills. Two of them — SB1110 and HCR008 — were scheduled to be heard on the House and Senate floors right before the recess. Leadership indicated the reading calendars would stay the same, meaning these will be heard and debated as soon as they reconvene. Several other pieces of legislation that were stuck in committee could remain stuck in committee (a good thing) or could be heard. What makes it onto agendas will still be up to committee chairs. It is certainly possible that chairs will allow new bill introductions, but hopefully with the delay in business, new bills will be limited or non-existent.
SB1110 is up on the House reading calendar, but it is buried behind several other pieces of legislation. As a reminder, this bill would severely limit the ballot initiative process. When it comes up, there will likely be debate for and against, but it is expected to pass along party lines. You can take action here by asking Governor Little to veto the legislation if it does indeed pass. Though the vote has veto proof margins in the Senate, there is a slim possibility some votes could be flipped now that the session is nearing its end and the political stakes are lower. [/bsf-info-box][bsf-info-box icon=”Defaults-tree” icon_size=”32″ icon_color=”#1e73be” title=”Anti-Public Lands Bill”]HCR008 could be the first thing heard on Tuesday when the session reconvenes. This legislation authorizes spending a quarter of a million dollars in taxpayer money to place a value on Idaho’s public lands. It is a waste of money and has a strong anti-public lands sentiment. HCR008 is the first item on the 10th order of business in the Senate. Whether they skip the 10th order and go elsewhere is unknown. We’ll be livestreaming the debate on the CVI Facebook page so you can receive the vote results immediately. Contact your Senator here to let them know this isn’t a good deal for Idaho. If you’re interested in receiving up-to-date information on protecting our public lands, you can sign up to receive text updates here. [/bsf-info-box][bsf-info-box icon=”fas fa-vote-yea” icon_size=”32″ icon_color=”#1e73be” title=”Voter Restriction Bill”]Prior to the recess, legislation we hoped was dead unfortunately came back to life. HB344 is the most recent iteration of an egregious voting restriction bill that will make it much more difficult for Idahoans to exercise their right to vote. Among other things, the bill would require voters to have up-to-date IDs that include a physical address and date of birth (this means that if you moved, you will need to go to the DMV to update your license in order to vote), requires a photo to be taken at the polling location if a signed affidavit is used, and will purge hundreds of voters from the voter rolls. Many forms of identification that are currently allowed would no longer be enough. A college student ID would need to have a date of birth – most don’t. High school IDs would no longer be allowed. A tribal ID would need to have a date of birth and a physical address. Many people living in rural parts of the state may only have a P.O. Box. Without a physical address, they wouldn’t be able to vote. If the Idaho Transportation Department finds the address on your driver’s license does not match that on your voter registration, you would be removed as an eligible voter. The last version of this legislation provided $2M to provide state issued voter ID cards – that has been removed, further placing the burden of navigating this added bureaucracy squarely on the voter. [/bsf-info-box][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We aren’t sure what the end of the legislative session will look like or when they’ll call sine die to go home. There is still a lot of work to do. Budgets need to be set and there are several legislative priorities that have not been addressed such as transportation funding. We can hope lawmakers finish the people’s business quickly and go back to their home districts. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]