EMPLOYMENT & TAXES
New Legislation: This week, House Bill 332 was introduced by Rep. Steven Harris (R-Meridian), passed out of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, and filed for second reading. This tax relief bill proposes to reduce all income tax brackets and set the top bracket to 6.5%, retroactive to January 2021. It also provides a one-time, nontaxable income tax rebate to Idaho taxpayers.
Update: This week, House Bill 291 was passed by the House, 54-14-2. Sponsored by Representative Brent J. Crane (R-Nampa), HB.291 would create a Business Bill of Rights to protect businesses and business owners from being forced to close during emergencies. The legislation would prevent the revoking of business licenses by government entities and protect against excessive fees to be placed on businesses.
New Legislation: This week, Representative Dustin Manwaring (R-Pocatello) and Representative Sage G. Dixon (R-Ponderay) introduced House Bill 327, known as the Idaho Utility Token Act. Referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, HB.327 would allow the creation of open blockchain utility tokens for individuals. This bill would also create a Financial Technology Sandbox to allow individuals to create a good or derive during a specific period.
New Legislation: This week, Senator Christy Zito (R-Hammett) introduced Senate Bill 1182. This bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee. SB.1182 seeks to streamline the state unemployment insurance. This bill would change the formulas and rules for an individual to receive unemployment benefits.
Update: Senate Bill 1108a, sponsored by Senator Jim Rice, died on the Senate floor this week in a narrow 17-18 vote. This bill was a modest measure to try to reduce property taxes for Idahoans by changing the formula for growth of local level property taxes.
Update: House Bill 59, sponsored by Representative Julianne Young (R-Blackfoot), passed out of committee and was referred to General Orders for amending. HB.59 would make a change in the way that current birth certificates indicate adopted versus birth parents on the record, which allows adoptees to trace their birth parents after the age of 18.
Update: Sponsored by Representative Caroline Nilsson Troy, House Bill 96 passed the Senate (29-6) this week and is now before the Governor. HB.96 adds to a section of law that requires an individual’s driver’s license to be taken away when they have not paid child support. The legislation, if adopted, would allow that individual to petition for a temporary restricted permit to maintain or secure a job.
Update: This week, House Bill 302, sponsored by Representative Kevin Andrus (R-Lava Hot Springs), passed the House (57-12-1). HB.302 would require all parents considering the abortion of a preborn child with Down Syndrome to be provided by their physician with information about Down Syndrome and a list of available services for families of children with Down syndrome prior to performing the abortion. This information would include medically accurate information about Down Syndrome and the development of children with Down Syndrome and local financial, medical, emotional, and spiritual resources available to families. (It is estimated that preborn babies with Down Syndrome are aborted at a rate of up to 90%.)
New Legislation: This week, House Bill 331 was introduced by Rep. Judy Boyle (R-Midvale) and referred to the House Education Committee. HB.331 would provide a state fund for school districts to offer an optional all-day kindergarten program. This legislation intends to decrease reliance on property taxes to support the option of all-day kindergarten programs in Idaho.
New Legislation: This week, House Bill 329 was introduced by Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls) and referred to the House Education Committee. HB.329 would require students to obtain signed permission from a parent or guardian before joining any school club. It would also require that school boards approve all student organizations and clubs and publish an annual list of those clubs along with the name of their faculty advisers and a description of their activities.
Update: Now before the Governor, House Bill 141 passed out of the Senate by a vote of 35-0. Sponsored by Representative Caroline Nilsson Troy, HB.141 would require any procurement contract given out by a state agency to a state institution of higher education must be awarded on a competitive basis between all the public state institutions of higher education.
Update: Senate Bill 1116, sponsored by Senator Kevin Cook (R-Idaho Falls), 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, the code requires that the student be expelled. SB.1116 passed out of committee in the House this week.
Update: Passed by the House, House Bill 299, sponsored by Representative Caroline Troy (R-Genesee), would prohibit employees of Idaho’s public Colleges and Universities from offering extra credit for voting-related behaviors, including voting, not voting, or voting for a specific candidate or ballot measure.
Update: This week, House Bill 298 passed the House by a vote of 59-10-1. Sponsored by Representative Gayann DeMordaunt (R-Eagle), HB.298 would require schools to inform parents of the ability to opt-out of vaccinations. If passed, this would allow for more accessible information for parents to make informed decisions in caring for their children.
Update: This week, the House passed House Bill 122 (previously House Bill 89) by a vote of 52-18. Sponsored by Representative Chad Christensen, HB.122 would allow school district employees to carry a concealed weapon on school property with an enhanced concealed weapons license.
New Legislation: House Bill 311 was introduced, reported out of committee, and referred to be amended this week. Sponsored by Representative Aaron von Ehlinger (R-Lewiston), HB.311 seeks to create taxpayer-funded public art more answerable to the public. Specifically, if a piece of art costs less than $25,000, it is subject to a two-thirds vote by the appropriate officials. If the art costs more than $25,000, it would be subject to approval by the voters, of whom 60% would be required to vote for it.
New Legislation: Representatives Gayann DeMordaunt (R-Eagle) and Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay) introduced House Bill 319, which is now before the House State Affairs Committee. In an effort to increase voter participation in city elections, HB.319 seeks to move the election of all city officials to even-numbered years.
New Legislation: Introduced by Representative Brandon Mitchell (R-Moscow), House Bill 320 would end the current rule of mandatory driver’s education programs. Instead, it would institute rules about passing a test in order to obtain learner’s permits and provisional driver’s licenses.
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. SB.1044 would make unelected urban renewal boards take an advisory role. Instead, the power of eminent domain would be granted to elected municipality boards such as a city council. This week, SB.1044 passed the House (68-1-1) and is now before the Governor.
Update: Senate Bill 1060, sponsored by Senator Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens), 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. SB.1060 passed the House (66-2-2) and is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature. | Madison Liberty Standard: Support.
Update: Introduced this week by Senator Jim Guthrie (R-McCammon), House Bill 126 would permit the production, processing, transportation, and research of hemp. HB.126 passed out of committee and is awaiting further action by the Senate.
Update: House Bill 216 is a supplemental appropriations bill of more than $369 million for Medicaid. This bill was signed by the Governor this week.
New Legislation: Referred to the House State Affairs Committee, House Bill 322 would increase the State of Idaho’s powers to not enforce unconstitutional federal orders. Sponsored by Representative Sage G. Dixon (R-Ponderay), HB.322 would increase federalism in the state if adopted.
New Legislation: This week, Representative Tammy Nichols (R- Middleton), Representative John Vander Woude (R- Nampa), and Representative Vito Barbieri (R-Dalton Gardens) introduced House Bill 323. The legislation seeks to protect individuals against censorship by social media websites and would allow users to file a civil action against social media companies. HB.323 was referred to the House State Affairs Committee.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
Update: House Bill 281 by Representative Karey Hanks (R-St. Anthony) was sent to the amending orders in the House this week. HB.281 would ban any mask mandates for any reason by any level of government in the state of Idaho. The anticipated amendment will add an exemption for court houses, because the legislature does not have jurisdiction over locations governed by the judicial branch of government. An exemption had previously been added to the bill for hospitals and care facilities as well.
Update: Senate Bill 1041, introduced by Senator Jim Guthrie (R-McCammon), 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 item’s comparative price before and during the state of emergency. SB.1041 passed the House (61-7-2) and is now before the Governor. | Madison Liberty Standard: Support.
Update: Since the last legislative update, Senate Bill 1136, previously Senate Bill 1003, was reintroduced into the Senate with some minor amendments, passed out of the Senate, and amended again by the House. SB.1136 passed the Senate, 27-7-1. Senators Kelly Anthon (R-Burley) and Chuck Winder (R -Boise) are sponsoring this bill, which would change the designation of certain events from a “state of emergency” to a “state of peril.” It would limit these events to man-made disasters rather than natural disasters. It 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.
LEGISLATURE ON PAUSE
Last week on Friday, March 19th, the legislature began a two-week recess from the legislative session that was expected to end within the next week. COVID, the virus that has interrupted numberless daily activities and often barred us from the most tender moments of human experience, is again the cause of the disruption. Six members of the Idaho House of Representatives had tested positive for COVID-19, spurring the decision to recess until noon of April 6th, 2021. Although this means that important work on bills to limit the governor’s power, protect Idaho families, and preserve our rights has halted, this also gives Idahoans more time to make their voices heard on paramount issues that will be the center of attention once again when session resumes in April. We urge you to act now by taking this opportunity to review the legislation currently being considered (a report on the past week’s activity is included in this email) and take part in “government of the people, by the people, for the people” by writing an email to your legislators letting them know your position on these important issues.
Lindsey Zea is a Policy and Research Associate with the Madison Liberty Institute. Lindsey holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from BYU-Idaho and loves finding applications of history to current events and political debates. She also serves as a Policy Analyst with the Better Cities Project (BCP) and formerly interned with the Libertas Institute in Utah.