ECONOMY, TAXATION, AND TRANSPORTATION
New Legislation: House Bill 209 would funnel federal dollars that Idaho is currently receiving for Medicaid into a savings fund called a “stabilization fund.” These funds would be used if the Medicaid program ever overstepped its appropriated funds in the future. Idaho currently has massively overstepped its Medicaid budget by an unprecedented miscalculation of the costs. This bill was sponsored by Representative Fred Wood and failed on the House floor this week.
New Legislation: House Bill 216 is a supplemental appropriations bill of more than $369 million for Medicaid. This bill passed the House Floor 36-31 and will be sent to a Senate Committee this coming week.
New Legislation: Senate Bill 1132 would create a Driving Authorization Card as an option for drivers in Idaho. It would function similarly to a driver’s license, but would not function as an ID for other purposes such as voting. This bill was introduced this week by Senator Jim Guthrie and was sent to the Senate Transportation committee.
New Legislation: House Bill 218 was introduced and referred to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee. Introduced by Representative Mike Moyle, the bill would phase out a specific type of property tax on businesses over the next few years. This tax is incredibly difficult for businesses to calculate and report. Thus, this legislation would help remove barriers to entry for many new businesses.
Update: Senate Bill 1041, introduced by Senator Jim Guthrie, would adjust a section of code that bans businesses and individuals from charging excessive prices for pharmaceuticals, water, food and fuel during a state of emergency (also known as price gouging). This bill amends that law to clarify that an exorbitant price can’t be judged by how much the retailer is earning (“increase in margin earned”), only the comparative price of the item before and during the state of emergency. This bill has passed the Senate Floor and the House Commerce and Human Resources committee.
Update: Senate Bill 1084 was unanimously passed by the Senate this week. This bill would establish a regular review of required licensing for jobs and occupations to evaluate if any licensing is unnecessary and can be eliminated. This bill is sponsored by Senators Lori Den Hartog and Todd M. Lakey, and Representative Gayann De Mordaunt.
Update: House Bill 220 (previously House Bill 17), sponsored by Representative Bruce Skaugg, would ban taxpayer funds from being sent to abortion providers as well as prohibit any public contracting or public funding of any nature to a facility or organization that offers abortions. This bill passed the House State Affairs Committee this week.
New Legislation: This week, House Bill 215, was introduced by Representative Wendy Horman. The bill was subsequently referred to the House Education Committee. This legislation would allow for low-income families to receive $500 of grant money, per child, per year, for alternative forms of education like private schools, charter schools, or homeschooling. This bill would help parents of low-income families to create additional opportunities for their children.
New Legislation: Representatives Charlie Shepherd, Ryan Kerby, and Dorothy Moon introduced House Bill 221. The bill was referred to the House Education Committee. This bill seeks to address the shortage of teachers that exists in Idaho, especially in the rural areas of the state. The bill would permit local governments to create teaching certificates that can be more easily obtained than current certificates. These local government-created certificates would only be valid in the county where it was issued.
Update: House Bill 141 was amended and referred to the House Judiciary, Rules, and Administration Committee this week. Sponsored by Representative Caroline Nilsson Troy, this bill would require that any procurement contract given out by a state agency to a state institution of higher education would have to be awarded on a competitive basis between all the public state institutions of higher education.
Update: Senate Bill 1046, introduced by Senator Steven P. Thayn, would allow parents to request curriculum alternatives in public schools if the parents of at least 24 students request changes. This bill would give parents a greater say in their children’s education and what happens at school. This week, the bill has been amended and is waiting to be voted on in the Senate.
Update: Senate Bill 1075, sponsored by Senator Thayne and Representative Kerby, allows school districts to begin a 4-week jump start program for children starting kindergarten that did poorly on an initial screening. To be eligible for the program the parents also will need to attend training on how to help their child succeed. This bill passed a vote in the Senate 32-1-2 and is bound for the House.
Update: Senator Kevin Cook introduced Senate Bill 1116 this week which would make it so that if a student is found to have a weapon at a public school, the student would not be required to be expelled. Currently, if a student brings a weapon, it would be required that the student be expelled. The bill was amended this week and is now ready to be voted on in the Senate.
Update: House Bill 67, sponsored by Representatives Gayann DeMordaunt and Ryan Kerby, would limit which government entities are allowed to close down K-12 schools for public health reasons. Under this legislation, only school boards would have that power. This bill passed in the Senate this week, and previously passed on the house floor. It has been sent to the governor’s desk.
Update: House Bill 68 requires that each state institution of higher education create a plan to stop the spread of infectious diseases. After that plan has been put in place, only the Idaho Department of Education would be able to close a state institution of higher education for public health reasons. This bill is sponsored by Representatives Gayann DeMordaunt and Ryan Kerby. This bill passed the Senate this week and previously passed the House. It is now awaiting the Governor’s action.
New Legislation: House Bill 223, previously House Bill 88, sponsored by Representative Mike Moyle, passed the House floor this week. This bill would make ballot collection (sometimes called “harvesting”) illegal except when done by someone specifically authorized to do so, or by family members of a voter. The exception makes it possible for the elderly to give their ballot to someone they trust to be delivered for counting.
Update: Senate Bill 1027, sponsored by Senator Doug Ricks, has now passed both chambers of the legislature. This bill would require that individuals who are wrongfully convicted of a crime would receive monetary restitution from the state of Idaho.
Update: Senate Bill 1044, introduced by Senators Mary Souza and Jim Rice, would prohibit unelected urban renewal boards from having the power of eminent domain. This bill would make unelected urban renewal boards take an advisory role and the power of eminent domain would go instead to elected municipality boards such as a city council. This week, SB.1044 passed out of the House Local Government Committee and is ready for consideration on the House floor.
Update: House Bill 140 passed out of the House (49-21) this week. The bill is sponsored by Representative Priscilla Giddings. This bill would prohibit any government entity in Idaho from contracting with a company that discriminates against their employees based on vaccination status.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
New Legislation: Senate Bill 1136, previously Senate Bill 1003, was reintroduced with some minor changes by Senators Kelly Anthon and Chuck Winder. It has since been referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee. This bill would change the designation of certain events from a “state of emergency” to a “state of peril”. This would limit these events to man-made disasters rather than natural disasters. This bill would also prohibit restrictions on the ability of Idahoans to work during a state of peril. Additionally, it would create limits to the length of a state of peril and the Governor’s capacity to restrict the freedoms of citizens during these situations.
Update: House Joint Resolution 1, sponsored by Representatives Steven Harris and Gayann DeMordaunt, having already passed the House, was passed out of the Senate State Affairs Committee this week and is now awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. This bill seeks to amend the Idaho Constitution, allowing the legislature to convene itself under special circumstances. To do so, 60% of legislators in the House and Senate would have to agree and then the session would need to be convened within 15 days.
Update: Senate Bill 1060, sponsored by Senator Steve Vick, would require that orders from a Public Health District be approved or denied by the county commissioners of each county before those orders could go into effect. This week the bill passed out of the House Health and Welfare Committee.
Matthew Veach is Policy and Research Intern who is currently pursuing a degree in International Studies with an emphasis in Policy while minoring in Political Science and Public Administration at BYU-Idaho. He will graduate in July 2021 then pursue a Master of Public Administration beginning in Fall 2021.