House and Senate Celebrate Idaho Day & the 100th Anniversary of the Capital
Senators and Representatives celebrated the Gem State’s history and future with Idaho Day on the 4th. The holiday, which was signed into law by Governor Otter in 2014, marks the day that President Lincoln created the Idaho territory on March 4, 1863. While it took another twenty-seven years before Idaho gained statehood, the date represents a founding moment in our history. Legislators marked the occasion on the Senate and House floors.
Legislators also took the opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Idaho Capitol building. Work began on the structure in 1905 and took sixteen years of construction to reach completion in 1921. An exhibit titled “Make Clear the Path of Duty” shows original architectural drawings of the building at the Garden Level of the Capitol to commemorate the occasion. The drawings are on loan from the architectural firm of Hummel Architects, which is the successor to the original firm that designed the Capitol, Tourtellotte and Hummel Architects.
Bill on Governor's Powers Amended
S1136 was amended by Senators on March 10th. The legislation, which was originally introduced on February 23rd, relates to clarifications and limitations on the Governor’s power during periods of extreme emergency. Today the Senate passed Senate Bill 1136 as amended (SB1136a), which clarifies and limits a Governor’s powers during times of extreme emergency. The measure amends Title 46, Chapter 6 of Idaho Code, and ensures Idahoan’s rights are protected during times of extreme peril.
The legislation would ensure the Governor maintains the ability to declare a state of extreme peril and activate the National Guard in case the safety of citizens is in jeopardy. At the same time, this legislation would protect citizens’ right to work, bear arms, worship freely, and peaceably assemble. The legislation would also prevent the suspension of any provision of the Idaho Code, ensuring all citizens’ voices are heard on how to best respond and support each other in times of need.
“The Senate majority caucus has worked together and with our constituents to clarify the powers of the Governor during a state of emergency,” said Senator Anthon. “This legislation would ensure that in times of extreme peril, Idahoans maintain their sovereignty and local control while also protecting the safety of all citizens. It would prevent the formation of a dangerous precedent where a Governor could unilaterally restrict individuals’ liberties by suspending Idaho code with no input from citizens or their legislature.”
Legislature Tackles School Personnel Shortages
Idaho legislators have brought forward several pieces of legislation to alleviate the teacher and support staff shortages facing the state. H221 aims to broaden the pool of teacher applicants and empower local schools to select candidates that meet their needs by allowing school districts and public charter schools to create local teaching certificates. Eligibility for these certificates would require certain educational or professional requirements, and the school must agree to provide mentoring and professional development. The bill passed the House with a vote of 54-13-3 and was introduced to the Senate.
Meanwhile, H203 and H248 target broader school personnel. H203 would allow retired school bus drivers to be rehired while still receiving Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI) benefits, with the goal of enticing more bus drivers to return. It passed the House with a vote of 67-0-3 and was introduced to the Senate, where it received a Do Pass recommendation from the Senate Education Committee and is now scheduled for its Third Reading. H221 would allow school boards for public districts or charter schools to voluntarily enter the State of Idaho employee benefit plan. Proponents argue that this will provide better benefits and thus make school positions more attractive. It passed the House with a vote of 51-14-5 and was introduced to the Senate.
House Committee Advances Tobacco Law Change
In December of 2019, the legal age for purchasing tobacco products and electronic cigarettes under Federal law changed from eighteen to twenty-one. This rule transition went smoothly in Idaho, with a 96.6% compliance rate among retailers and an A+ rating from the Department of Health and Welfare. S1087 intends to keep smoking age rules simple for businesses by increasing Idaho’s state legal purchasing age to match the Federal age and prohibiting additional regulations, restrictions, taxes, fees, or more restrictive age requirements than the state law in local jurisdictions. Those jurisdictions would still hold the power to regulate the use of tobacco products or electronic cigarettes in public spaces. Opponents have expressed concerns over restrictions on local autonomy, while proponents argue that the legislation will keep Idaho law more uniform.
The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 25-10-0 and was introduced to the House Health and Welfare Committee. It was reported out of the committee with a Do Pass recommendation and is scheduled for its Second Reading.
H126 is scheduled for its Second Reading in the Senate after receiving a Do Pass recommendation from the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee. The bill would legalize the production, research, processing, and transport of industrial hemp, which is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant used in several products. The bill passed the House with a vote of 44-26-0 on Monday.
Health & Welfare Reforms Reach House Floor
S1139 received a unanimous Do Pass recommendation from the House Health and Welfare Committee and is now scheduled for its Second Reading on the House Floor. The legislation, which passed the Senate last week with a vote of 33-0-2, aims to implement several lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. These include clarifications of medical definitions, additional criteria for orders such as quarantines, and implementation of court review as a mechanism of appeal for potential cases of wrongful detainment.
IDAHO STATISTICS & RANKINGS
Student's Succeed Despite Lack of Teachers
Idaho public schools have an average student to teacher ratio of 18:1
Idaho has the sixth-largest average class size in the nation
Idaho’s graduation rate rose above 82% for the first time in its history in May of 2020
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 was signed by the Governor on March 8. The new law will become effective July 1, 2021.
HJR004: This proposed constitutional amendment would prohibit the legalization of controlled substances unless approved by a two-thirds majority vote of the Idaho Legislature. The bill was introduced, read for the first time, printed, and referred to House State Affairs.
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 and passed out of the Committee with a Do Pass recommendation. It has been filed for the Second Reading calendar.
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. On March 10, it was reported as being held on the third reading calendar for one legislative day.
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 was signed by the Governor on March 5. It became effective the same day.
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 has been held on the third reading calendar for one legislative day.
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 reported out of the House State Affairs Committee with a Do Pass recommendation and was filed for the third reading calendar.
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 34-0-1 and was sent to the House, where it was filed for its first reading and referred to the House State Affairs.
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, where it was read for the first time and referred to the House Health and Welfare Committee. From there it passed out of committee with a Do Pass recommendation and has been filed for the second reading calendar.