Week 3 in the Statehouse

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Week three has been busy already! Let’s jump in to what’s happening:

Democracy in Action 

Our Voter Outreach Team got to work yesterday reaching out to unaffiliated registered voters on a recent bill, HB439, that would have shut them out from one of Idaho’s most important elections. The bill would have moved up the registration deadline for unaffiliated voters in Idaho’s primary election, forcing them to register with a party well before Election Day. One voter we spoke with, Diana from Northern Idaho who is a regular poll worker, sees so many voters make their voting decisions on Election Day. HB439 would no doubt affect these voters.

We let voters know about the bill and transferred them directly to the bill sponsor’s office (Representative Caroline Nilsson-Troy) so they could make their voice heard. Nilsson-Troy, told many of these voters that she has heard Idahoans loud and clear and will be pulling the bill. This victory is exactly what happens when voters like you speak up to make their voice heard! We commend Rep. Nilsson-Troy’s decision and willingness to listen to constituents.

While this bill seems to have met its end (we’ll let you know when it’s officially dead in the water), Idahoans interested in preserving democracy must remain on guard. We’ll keep you up to speed as other attacks on our right to vote arise. 

What’s New This Week

With the session now in full swing, CVI has worked on a variety of issues these past few days. Rulemaking is well underway, and we’re keeping tabs on agencies as they present potential red-tape reductions, fee-rules, and other changes to operations. Included in rulemaking is how the state monitors pollution (air, water, and waste), regulates industries from elk farms to manufacturing, and charges citizens for services provided by the state (licensing and permits). 

Bills We’re Watching

One notable bill this week is H456, which would change the permitting requirements for water-going vessels. So far, Idaho has remained free of invasive quagga and zebra mussels, thanks in part to our Invasive Species Program. In the Midwest, these little creatures have destroyed waterways and infrastructure, costing millions of dollars in damage over the course of decades. H456 makes some changes to the type of craft and the fee amounts that boat-owners need to register. We’re working with partners to make sure the program continues to be properly funded and Idaho remains free of these destructive aquatic species. 

This morning, a bill was introduced in Senate State Affairs that would put an end date on the legislative session. Currently, lawmakers from both chambers decide (or not) to end the session, called “sine die.” Generally, Idaho’s legislative sessions last 75-90 days. In 2021, the session dragged on for 311 days. The proposed legislation from Senator Jim Guthrie would end the session on the last Friday in March barring three circumstances – a ⅔ vote from both chambers to extend, a declared state of emergency, or a veto from the Governor. A similar bill failed to advance in the House last year. We’ll keep a close eye on this one. 

Money Talks: State Budgets

The powerful Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) has also been hard at work on state agency budgets. The Idaho Department of Lands presented their budget last Friday, which included a request for increased resources. IDL would like funding to help with the rising cost of fighting wildfire. Making firefighter wages closer in line with neighboring states, adding engines and other equipment, and investing in software to keep up with the agency’s complex transaction system were all discussed. 

Take a Closer Look

You can keep track of what’s moving through the Statehouse with CVI’s Bill Tracker here. We’ll be adding legislation as the session moves with links to take action. To receive weekly email updates on the legislative session, sign up here. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.