Idaho Legislation: Out of Session Update

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It’s been a few months now since the legislature (sort of) adjourned for the 2021 session. As CVI begins preparations for the 2022 session, it’s time to get caught up on off-season goings-on.

Though the House voted to not fully adjourn sine die, Speaker Bedke has so far chosen not to call representatives back to Boise. However, interim committees are still meeting as they normally would and plenty of work is moving forward. Here are some highlights:

  • In early August, the Ethics Committee convened for a hearing regarding Rep. Gidding’s behavior after she shared information about a whistleblower. The committee found her conduct “unbecoming of a legislator” and recommended she lose her seat on the House Commerce & Human Resources Committee. The full House will have to vote on the recommended punishment. Read more here. Von Ehlinger was arrested in Atlanta, GA in late September. 
  • A special committee tasked with distributing American Rescue Plan Act funds met in late July. ARPA dollars were a contentious subject in the 2021 session. 
  • The Property Taxes and Revenue Expenditures Committee met in late August. Important topics like property taxes were at the top of the agenda, but how to deal with Idaho’s massive budget surplus was also discussed. Some of the extra money could be used to fund infrastructure projects. 
  • The Federalism Committee met on 9/28 to cover lands issues, specifically the RFP process for HCR8 (legislation passed earlier this year commissioning a study on taxable value of non-taxable public lands) and the Biden Administration’s America the Beautiful Initiative. The committee ultimately passed a motion to approve a Request for Information regarding HCR8, which will lead to a more formal Request for Proposal. Presentations on America the Beautiful from Governor Little’s Office, Senator Risch’s Office, and Congressman Fulcher’s Office concluded that Idaho still needs more information on how America the Beautiful will work. Questions about conservation versus preservation, existing public lands, and voluntary, private land agreements arose. 
  • The Idaho Department of Lands presented their potential budget to the Idaho Land Board and the Natural Resource Committee. In the 2022 session, IDL plans to ask the legislature for increased funds for firefighting costs, including more personnel, equipment, and raises for wildland firefighters. 

Outside of committees, other work is also moving. In August, the Idaho Supreme Court overturned SB1110. This is a huge victory for Idahoans! In addition to overturning the law, the courts deemed bringing an initiative or referendum to the ballot a protected right. Therefore, to limit or change access to that right, the state will have to demonstrate a compelling interest (a high bar in jurisprudence). This should limit future attempts to chip away at our Constitutional right to ballot initiatives. All in all, this is a big win! 

At CVI, we’re starting to gear up for the 2022 legislative session. Meetings with legislators, partner advocates, and staffers have been ongoing. If you have a question about the legislature, send us an email. You can also sign up for weekly legislative updates here.

In the Meantime…

Redistricting is well underway. This once-every-ten-years process will redraw the lines of Idaho’s 35 legislative and 2 congressional districts. Based on data from the 2020 census, the Commission for Reapportionment will have the difficult task of redrawing lines. Public input will be taken online, but the timeline has been unpredictable. It’s likely incumbent legislators will soon find themselves in a different district after the process is complete. Court challenges to newly drawn maps are likely. Learn more about redistricting here and stay tuned for updates as the process moves forward.