This is a review of selected bills since my last newsletter. My next newsletter will provide a more thorough overview of the entire 2020 session.
Bills that lingered and died on the House floor without a vote
Grocery Tax credit increase (H494). This bill would have increased the grocery tax credit on your state income tax. I would have voted for this bill.
Sales Tax credit for Amazon (H540). This bill would have given Amazon a tax break for building infrastructure to accommodate their new facility in Nampa. I would have voted against this bill.
Funding for state colleges and universities (H603, H641 and H644 – signed into law by the Governor). In what was perhaps one of the most absurd series of actions by the House, the annual appropriation for all Idaho colleges and universities was killed twice as members nit-picked a $10,000 expenditure here and a person hired there. Meanwhile, professors are being laid off and academic programs are being scaled back or cut in the face of a tuition freeze. I voted for this appropriation all three times.
Fairness in Women’s Sports Act (H500 – signed into law by the Governor). This election year, anti-transgender law doesn’t affect a single high school or college student in Idaho. There are many far more important education issues to solve, such as teacher shortages, four-day school weeks, low college graduation rates, and so on. I voted against this low-priority bill that even the Idaho Attorney General found to be defective and warned that defending it in court will cost over $1 million in taxpayer dollars.
Interim committee to review Idaho Content Standards (SCR 132 – passed by the House and Senate, does not require approval by the Governor). I am a strong supporter of stakeholders working together to arrive at mutually agreed-to decisions – and I would normally support a bill like this. However, key stakeholders were excluded from the committee, specifically the State Board of Education and the State Department of Education. I voted against this politically motivated, election-year resolution.
Use of cell phones while driving (H614 – signed into law by the Governor). This law establishes a statewide ban on non-hands free use of cell phones while driving. For years the majority party fought this bill. This sudden reversal recognizes the use of hand-held devices while driving as a growing and significant risk to public safety. I voted for this bill.
“Too Great to Hate” license plate (S1297 – passed the Senate, killed in the House). One of the most disgusting votes on the House floor. This bill failed on the House floor by a vote of 30-32 without a single nay-sayer debating against it (a true act of cowardice). But what’s worse is that there were four “yes” votes from people voting absentee (which is allowed by House rules). Majority party leadership prevented those votes from being cast (including my “yes” vote). Had all the votes been counted, the bill would have passed. Who in the majority party thinks Idaho is not “too great to hate?”
Public employment discrimination (H440 – signed into law by the Governor). This law removes protections from discrimination in employment for “certain” groups of people. I voted against this ideologically driven, election-year bill.
Funding source for ballot initiatives (S1350 – signed into law by the Governor). This law requires sponsors of citizen-driven ballot initiatives to identify how their initiative will be funded. The legislature doesn’t even require itself to provide this information for the laws it writes. I voted against this bill, which is a thinly veiled attempt to create more roadblocks for citizen-driven ballot initiatives.
Sexual assault protection (H383 – killed in House Judiciary and Rules committee). This bill, which had bi-partisan support, would have allowed protection orders for victims of sexual assault, which are currently granted for victims of domestic violence, stalking and even telephone harassment. It died without a hearing in committee. I would have voted for this bill.
Forced eviction of tenants (H461 – Signed into law by the Governor). This law allows a landlord to forcibly evict a tenant and remove their possessions within 72 hours upon a court order of eviction. I would have voted for this bill if it gave a judge discretion to grant more time based on extenuating circumstances (i.e. illness, disabilities, family emergencies, etc.).