Things have started moving at the Statehouse. Most committees have met at least once and taken care of organizational matters – who’s sitting where, naming the committee’s student page, and discussing testimony protocol. Each committee works a little differently, with Chairs having a great deal of power over deciding what bills are heard, how testimony is taken, and what gets priority. Chairs are the first decision makers on all pieces of legislation. If a bill sponsor can’t find a committee chair to add their legislation to the agenda, the bill dies before it’s even been heard.
Virtual testimony now available (but not everywhere…)
Also up to chairs is how public testimony works. In the Senate, it’s been decided that all committees will hear both in-person and virtual testimony, though you must sign up in advance for either. Find the bill you’d like to testify on in the committee’s agenda; you’ll find a link at the bottom (highlighted in red); click it, then follow the directions. If you have difficulties, contact the committee secretary listed on the agenda. You can explore the committee webpage here. In the House, it’ll be up to each committee chair whether they’ll hear virtual testimony or not, and also who gets priority. For example, State Affairs Chairman Brent Crane said he would allow virtual testimony, though in-person testimony will be heard first. Written testimony is always an option as well, which can be submitted on the legislative website or sent directly to the committee secretary to be included in the legislators’ packets ahead of the meeting. More information on testimony – both in-person and virtual – can be found here.
Bills to watch out for this week
You might remember that last year, CVI fought back against several bills aimed at restricting our right to vote, and unfortunately we expect more of the same this year. One has already popped up in the form of H439, introduced by Rep. Caroline Nilsson-Troy, which would make it harder for unaffiliated voters to participate in the Idaho primary.
H439 changes the deadline for unaffiliated voters to declare a political party. Under this bill, all voters would need to declare a party by the candidate declaration date, currently March 11, effectively shutting out hundreds of thousands of unaffiliated voters from participating in one of Idaho’s primary elections.
Other legislation we’re working on:
Yesterday, rules for elk farming were heard in House Agriculture. With the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in Idaho, there is concern about the transmission of the extremely contagious disease between captive cervids (elk, moose, reindeer, etc.) and wild animals. Currently, the Idaho Department of Agriculture (who oversees elk farms) only requires 10% of deceased animals be tested. A test for live animals has not yet been developed. CVI and our partners would like that number to be 100%. Testing is inexpensive (about $35 per test) compared to the cost of losing a whole herd, and a trophy bull elk raised on a farm can net upwards of $15,000 for the farmer. Wild animals are managed by Fish & Game. Elk farms could either double fence, which is extremely expensive, or test more to keep CWD from spreading between herds. We’ll keep you in the loop as rule-making progresses.
We also continue to monitor and engage on K-12 science standards. The debate began last week, and will likely continue through the session. Read up on this long-standing issue here.
Stay tuned for notifications to testify, contact your representatives, and take action on legislative issues. If you have questions about legislation moving through the Statehouse, how to testify, or anything else related to the Idaho Legislature, feel free to contact me.
Resources to Stay Informed
We have also set up a nifty Bill Tracker on our website, which formats all of the legislation we’re tracking and engaging with in one place. You can view more here (scroll to the bottom of the page).
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