Legislature Moves Closer to Putting Special Sessions on the Ballot
Senate Joint Resolution 102 was adopted by the Senate with a vote of 24-11-0 on Thursday, sending it to the House for their consideration. The resolution would amend the Idaho Constitution to require the Legislature to convene within fifteen days of a written request from 60% of members from both the Senate and House. The Legislature would only be allowed to consider issues contained in the initial petition, which proponents say will keep special sessions from morphing into regular sessions. If SJR 102 passes the House with two-thirds of the vote it will appear before voters in November 2022.
Senate Passes Legislation to Limit Authority of the Department of Health & Welfare Director
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee advanced Senate Bill 1139 to the Senate Floor on Monday. S1139 clarifies the definitions of “quarantine” and “isolation” and adds definitions for “biological agent,” “chemical agent,” “medically unknown symptoms,” and “restricted access.” Additionally, it clarifies the criteria under which an order of isolation, quarantine, or restricted access can be made and removes much of the discretion and potential for agency overreach. The bill also implements the mechanism of court review of such orders after requests from those who believe they are wrongfully detained under any of these orders. The bill further provides the ability to petition a judge for release from any order if an individual believes it is unlawful. S1139 passed the Senate unanimously on Thursday, and is now headed to the House.
Joint Memorial on Snake River Dams Introduced
Senate Joint Memorial 103 was printed and referred to the Senate Resources and Environment Committee this week. The Joint Memorial opposes the removal or breaching of four dams on the Columbia-Snake River System and its tributaries. It also states that the Idaho Legislature recognizes and supports the international competitiveness, multi-modal transportation, and economic development benefits provided by the Port of Lewiston and the Columbia-Snake River System. The Joint Memorial comes in response to a $33.5 billion federal proposal to breach four dams on the Snake River as part of a plan to boost the local salmon population. The dams play a major role in Idaho’s hydropower system, transportation, irrigation and recreation.
A similar Joint Memorial passed in last year’s regular session, Senate Joint Memorial 110, also opposed the removal of the dams.
Dueling Reforms to Motor Vehicle Insurance Held in Committee
The Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee held a hearing on competing insurance reform bills on Tuesday. Senate Bill 1118 and Senate Bill 1129 both seek to modify Section 41-2503 of Idaho Code to address concerns over motor vehicle underinsurance coverage. S1118 would require that purchasers of underinsurance coverage receive the stated benefits provided on the declarations page; the bill also limits the benefits recoverable to the purchaser’s actual losses or the amount of coverage purchased, whichever is less. S1129, on the other hand, requires that any underinsured motor vehicle coverage with limits of liability less than two times the Idaho minimum limits for bodily injury or death shall be construed to provide coverage in excess of the liability coverage of any underinsured motor vehicle involved in the accident.
Chairman Patrick and the committee voted to hold both bills for the time being to “encourage negotiations” between sponsors of the two bills and give them time to “come back with something that is better for the industry.”
Federal Stimulus Fund Management May Extend Session
The Federal stimulus bill currently under consideration in Congress may encourage Idaho lawmakers to work several weeks later than average or recess and return in several months. If passed, the stimulus bill is expected to provide over a billion dollars in additional state funding to Idaho. The Legislature will need to work to properly appropriate these additional funds, but keeping the Legislature in session to do so will likely require either pushing its sine die date into April or returning from a brief recess once Federal guidelines for the stimulus funds are available. The Legislature normally finishes regular sessions by the end of March.
IDAHO STATISTICS & RANKINGS
Snake River Dams Powering Idaho
The four dams have a combined rated capacity of 3,000 megawatts
Power production from the dams saves 4.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere each year
The Federal Columbia River Power System, which the dams are a part of, is the largest source of renewable electricity in the Pacific Northwest.
Legislation at a Glance
H0026: This legislation would eliminate the use of the habitual status offender definition and prevent status offenders from being detained in secure facilities instead of juvenile shelter care facilities. The bill passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
HJR001: This joint resolution would amend the Idaho Constitution to allow the Legislature to convene itself into an extraordinary session within 15 days of a written request of 60% each of the House and Senate membership. The bill passed the House with a vote of 51-18-1 and was introduced in the Senate. It was referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee. It passed the Senate State Affairs Committee with a Do Pass recommendation. It was returned to the Senate State Affairs Committee.
S1006: This legislation would consolidate current statutory requirements for literacy intervention and update provisions in alignment with the Task Force recommendation for focusing on the importance of having every student reading at grade level by the end of grade 3. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 35-0-0 and was introduced to the House. It was referred to the House Education Committee.
S1009: This bill would include the State Fire Marshall and State Fire Marshal deputies in the same definition as firefighters under the Public Employee Retirement System. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 32-1-2 and was introduced to the House. It was referred to the House Commerce and Human Resources Committee and received a Do Pass Recommendation. It is on the House Third Reading Calendar.
S1017: This bill revises definitions involving uniform controlled substances to make technical corrections in order to include synthetic drugs. It also provided corrected terminology and provisions for controlled substances. It clarifies the definitions and identifies the differences of marijuana and CBD that are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The bill passed the Senate and the House and was signed by the Governor.
S1027: This legislation would compensate individuals who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned with $62,000 per year of incarceration or $75,000 per year if incarcerated on death row. Those who were put on the sex offender registry wrongfully would receive an additional $25,000 per year on the registry. Exonerees would be given a two-year window to file a claim from the moment they were formally exonerated by a court. The bill passed the Senate and the House and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
S1039aaH: This bill would allow school districts to award a Workplace Readiness Diploma to graduates who have completed career technical education programs. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 33-0-2 and was introduced to the House. It was referred to the House Education Committee and reported out with a Do Pass recommendation. From the Floor, the bill was placed on General Orders by unanimous consent. It was amended and reported out without recommendation and filed for the Third Reading on the House Floor.
S1069: This bill would clarify Idaho law on absentee ballots by requiring clerks to contact a voter in any case where their absentee ballot cannot be counted to resolve the issue by 8:00 PM on the day of the election, after which it is impossible to count the ballot. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 35-0-0 and was introduced to the House. It was referred to the House State Affairs Committee.
S1110: The purpose of this legislation is to increase voter involvement and inclusivity in the voter initiative/referendum process. This will be accomplished by ensuring signatures are gathered from each of the 35 legislative districts, so every part of Idaho is included in this process. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 26-9-0 and was introduced to the House. It was referred to the House State Affairs Committee.
S1134: The purpose of this legislation is to amend Idaho Code 46-1005A by inserting language allowing for the recovery of federal funds after a Declaration of State Emergency has expired or was terminated. The bill passed out of the Senate State Affairs Committee with a Do Pass recommendation and is scheduled for its Third Reading.
S1139: This legislation clarifies the definitions of “quarantine” and “isolation” and adds definitions for “biological agent,” “chemical agent,” “medically unknown symptoms,” and “restricted access” in Idaho Code 56-1001. It also clarifies the powers of the Director Health & Welfare in Idaho Code 56-1003 as it relates to the promulgation of rules and issuing of orders of isolation, quarantine, and restricted access. Additionally, it adds language to allow for a request to the courts for review of an order issued by the Director. The bill passed out of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee with a Do Pass Recommendation, passed the Senate Floor 33-0, and was sent to the House.
SJR101: This joint resolution would amend the Idaho Constitution to prohibit the production, manufacture, transportation, sale, delivery, dispensing, distribution, possession, or use of psychoactive drugs. Exceptions are allowed for prescription drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and drugs used in clinical trials. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 24-11-0 and was introduced to the House. It was referred to the House State Affairs Committee.