2021 Legislative Update: Week 12

EDUCATION

New Legislation: House Bill 364, called the Protecting Critical Thinking in Higher Education Act and sponsored by Representative Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls), was introduced this week and passed out of the House Education Committee. This bill would reinforce the right to free speech and is being presented in response to the stories of discrimination and oppression at Idaho’s college campuses based on political beliefs. 

Update: House Bill 354, a supplemental appropriation bill for the Public Schools Educational Support Program’s Division of Teachers, failed in the House this week with a tied vote of 34-34-2. The largest concern with this bill was one line item for 9 million dollars for the professional development of teachers. Critical race theory and social justice agendas are being pushed in professional development training and courses across the country. Many legislators are only willing to vote for this funding bill when it has been amended to specify that those ideologies will not be included in professional development. 

Update: Senate Bill 1193, the funding bill for the board of education for the fiscal year 2021, passed in the Senate with a narrow vote of 18-17 this week.

FAMILY PROSPERITY

Update: House Bill 366 (previously Senate Bill 1085 and Senate Bill 1183), sponsored by Senator Patti Anne Lodge and Representative Steve Harris, passed on the House floor this week in a vote of 53-16. This bill would prohibit abortions after the fetus’s heartbeat is detected, with exceptions for rape and incest. If passed, the law would not go into effect immediately; it would be inactive until triggered by a United States appellate court decision decided in favor of a similar heartbeat abortion law. | Madison Liberty Standard: Favor 

Update: House Bill 302, sponsored by Representative Kevin Andrus (R-Lava Hot Springs), passed the Senate this week, 26-8. This bill would require all parents considering the abortion of a preborn child 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 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. This bill is intended to increase the information accessible to parents of preborn children with Down syndrome, who have been estimated to be aborted at a rate of up to 90%.

Update: This week, House Bill 298 passed the Senate by a vote of 30-5 and previously passed the House. Sponsored by Representative Gayann DeMordaunt (R-Eagle), this bill would require schools to inform parents of the ability to opt-out of vaccinations. This would allow for more accessible information to assist parents in making informed decisions with their children. This bill will soon be before the governor for consideration.

GOOD GOVERNANCE

New Legislation: Senate Bill 1205 was introduced this week. This bill would help to protect small arms and self-defense. This bill would also give the Attorney General the essential ability to challenge federal enforcement agencies.

Update: Senate Concurrent Resolution 106, which would authorize the Idaho Wheat Commission to enter into agreements with the State Building Authority to finance the construction of a new building, passed the House this week with a vote of 39-28 and previously passed in the senate.

Update: House Joint Resolution 4, sponsored by Senator C. Scott Grow (R-Eagle), Representative Brent Crane (R-Nampa), and Representative Gayann DeMordaunt (R-Eagle), failed to get the 2/3rds vote required to advance this proposed constitutional amendment in the House this week with a vote of 42-28. This resolution proposed a constitutional amendment that would require a 2/3rds vote from both chambers of the legislature to take a psychoactive drug off of the schedule one or schedule two drug lists. 

ELECTIONS

Update: Senate Bill 1111, sponsored by Senator Chuck Winder (R-Boise) and Representative Joe Palmer (R-Meridian), passed the House this week with a vote of 53-16. This bill would change city elections across the state to even-numbered years and require that any city with a population greater than 100,000 is required to elect city council members by district instead of at-large.

Update: House Bill 290, sponsored by Representative Gayann DeMordaunt (R-Eagle), would ensure the security of absentee voting and the validity of petition signatures by clarifying the requirement that county clerks verify voter signatures. This bill passed the Senate this week in a unanimous vote. 

Update: House Bill 344, sponsored by Representative Brandon Mitchell (R-Moscow), intends to change some election regulations regarding documentation to prove residence and picture identification to preserve election integrity. For example, it would remove the BYUI ID as an approved form of identification to be used for same-day voter registration because the ID does not have a birthdate. Additionally, it requires that if you are already registered but forget your picture ID when you arrive to vote, you will need to have your picture taken to accompany the signed affidavit as an alternative to providing a picture ID. This bill passed the House this week by a vote of 56-12.

STATE OF EMERGENCY

Update: House Bill 135, as amended in the Senate (previously House Bill 1,  House Bill 16, and House Bill 98), focuses on the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches, the right to work during a pandemic, and curbing the powers of the Governor. It limits the power of the Governor to restrict a person’s ability to work or attend religious meetings during a state of emergency. This bill was introduced by Representative Jason Monks and passed the House this week with minor changes from the Senate. | Madison Liberty Standard: Favor

Update: House Bill 339 (previously House Bill 281) is sponsored by Representative Karey Hanks (R-St. Anthony) and passed the House this week by a vote of 47-22. This legislation would ban local governments from establishing mask mandates.

New Legislation: Senate Bill 1204 was introduced this week and passed out of the Senate Finance Committee. This bill would clarify ARPA money, which is the newest wave of COVID funds coming into Idaho, are cognizable (enabling them to be under the authority of the legislature for dispensation instead of the governor) and create governing principles and funds for their expenditure.

Update: House Bill 246 (previously House Bill 4), sponsored by Representative Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay), would remove the ability of a government entity to restrict a parent’s rights over their child in a time of emergency.  Thus, regardless of whether Idaho is in a state of emergency, parents’ rights over their child remain the same. This bill passed the Senate this week in a unanimous vote and previously passed the House and is now on its way to the governor’s desk. | Madison Liberty Standard: Support