Week 5 in the Statehouse

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If you’ve noticed a spike in news surrounding legislation, there’s a good reason! Last Friday, February 4th, was the last day for legislators to get their proposals to bill drafters. Because of that, it’s been a very, very busy week at the Statehouse! 

On the Right to Vote

We’ve seen a total of six bills that have been introduced this session that want to restrict your right to the ballot. Two of them, H459 and H457, would make the voting process much more difficult for the average Idahoan, particularly impacting rural folks, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. A third, H467, would shorten the filing period for candidates from two weeks to one week, essentially giving an unfair advantage to incumbent legislators. 

All three bills have an emergency clause, which would make them go into effect immediately if they pass. These pieces of legislation will have an immediate and detrimental effect, with a significant primary election quickly approaching. 

Learn more about these bills and other voter attacks here.

On the Conservation Side

We’re likely to see changes to the Treasure Valley Air Quality Board soon. S1254 passed the Senate Transportation Committee yesterday with bipartisan support. The AQB manages the Treasure Valley Emissions Testing Program. While air quality in the valley isn’t great (inversion, anyone?) it is true that the program is becoming somewhat obsolete. Additionally, the program is a complicated mix of different government agencies, cities, counties, and the federal government, and could be rebuilt in a better, more useful way to protect our air quality. Nowadays, about 93% of cars pass the emissions test, which evaluates CO2. Thanks to technological improvements, vehicles on the road now simply emit less than those tested in 1983, when the program was proposed. 

However, it is certainly not the time to ignore what is still a big problem for Idaho – poor air quality. In the hearing, Senator Melissa Wintrow remarked that revising the program is an opportunity for Idaho to invest in cleaner technology and build out our electric vehicle infrastructure. 

We’re also watching other bills as they move (or don’t!) through the legislative process. H546 dealing with building codes, S1251 and S1252 having to do with land transfers, and, as usual, budgeting and rulemaking. We’ll keep you up to speed as things progress. 

Our legislative work depends on informed voters (like you!) speaking out. Help us keep our lawmakers accountable to our environmental resources and democratic values by staying up-to-date on what’s happening in the Statehouse. You can follow along with bills that have our attention by using our Legislative Bill Tracker