Week 7 in the Statehouse

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This point in the legislative session is nonstop motion – everyone is trying to get their bills through committee, debates are happening on the floor, and lawmakers have the upcoming primary on their minds. 

With so many bills and resolutions moving, it can be tough to keep track of what’s important and what isn’t, which bills are active and which have died. Check out our Bill Tracker where we take out the guesswork for you, highlight priority legislation, and show where each bill is currently at in its long trajectory through the Statehouse.

The right to vote is still under threat.

Two bills we opposed passed the House floor on Monday. HB439, which would potentially shut out hundreds of thousands of unaffiliated voters from one of Idaho’s most important elections, passed on a 36-32 vote, with members of both parties speaking out against this harmful piece of legislation. HB547, which criminalizes helping a non-family member in delivering their ballot, passed on a party-line vote. Both bills will now head to the Senate State Affairs Committee for a hearing, where we will continue the fight for the preservation of Idaho’s successful election system. 

Growth and the role of planning in environmental justice

This week, HB643 was introduced in the House. This legislation would change county subdivision processes, impacting our farmland and paving the way for more poorly planned urban sprawl. As Idaho continues to grow faster than any other state in the nation, we need to make sure our infrastructure, utilities and – most importantly – our people, are considered when we develop land. Should this bill pass, crucial questions about impacts to local infrastructure and services (such as roads or schools) normally addressed in the subdivision process are left unanswered. Skipping over measures of due diligence and county oversight will cost taxpayers in the future. HB643 is a dangerous threat to our open space and would certainly impact thoughtful development as Idaho communities continue to grow. This bill will be heard in the House Local Government Committee next week. 

Clean energy codes, again

For the past several years, we’ve successfully fought back attempts to undermine Idaho’s building, electrical, and energy efficiency standards. Several cities in the state have adopted standards that make homes more efficient and safer, save homeowners’ hard-earned money, and prepare Idaho for the transition to clean energy. HB614 and HB660 both threaten this work by changing who controls the energy standard building code, giving power to the Legislature instead of solely the Building Code Board. The bills are up for a hearing today in the House Business Committee. 

Some good news! 

SCR117 passed the Senate today with a unanimous vote! This resolution celebrates the 50th anniversary of one of Idaho’s most beloved public lands, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. We are heartened that the Legislature is reaffirming Idahoans’ love for our public lands. The resolution should get a hearing next week in the House Resources & Conservation Committee. 

SB1319, a simple piece of legislation with bipartisan support, is on the Senate’s 3rd reading calendar and should be up for a vote sometime this week. If passed, the bill will then move on to the House Education Committee. This legislation will help enable school districts to access federal grant money to upgrade their buses to low- or zero-emission vehicles.  

We’ll keep you up to speed as legislation moves!