MONDAY the state Senate killed, by two votes, a ban on “coal rolling” sponsored by local Sens. Bert Brackett and Michelle Stennett but passed a bill sponsored by Twin Falls Rep. Lance Clow to let people exceed the speed limit by up to 15 mph while passing on two-lane roads with a speed limit of 55 mph or higher. And the Senate Resources and Environment Committee advanced a bill hiking hunting, fishing and trapping fees with instituting a “price lock” for loyal customers and also committing more money to anti-depredation efforts.
TUESDAY the Senate Education Committee killed a bill adding 25 Idaho questions to the high school civics test. The House passed a bill prohibiting local governments or school districts from trying to influence the outcome of a bond or levy election as well as one offering sales tax breaks to data centers.
WEDNESDAY morning started off busy, with the Senate State Affairs Committee killing a bill to standardize early voting times in Idaho (it would have reduced early voting time in a handful of counties) and printing two dealing with legal protections for parents who believe in faith healing. One of the bills would make it easier for the courts to get involved if a child is gravely ill or dies but would not change the exemption from criminal prosecution in the current law, and one, which was introduced by Dan Sevy, who is a member of the Followers of Christ Church and has been working with legislators, would simply recognize other forms of alternative medicine as well as faith healing.
The state Senate killed a bill banning “motorcycle profiling” that had passed the House pretty easily. The House Judiciary and Rules Committee held a four-hour-long informational hearing on getting rid of mandatory minimums but doesn’t plan to act on the bill this year. At the same time, hundreds of people packed into the Lincoln Auditorium to hear climate change experts talk about its impact, an event put together by Boise Democrat Rep. Ilana Rubel after she was blocked from holding a legislative hearing on the topic earlier this year. And the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee moved on an income tax cut bill that had passed in February but intending to reduce the size of the tax cut by about half.
THURSDAY afternoon things got busy, starting when the Senate Transportation Committee spiked a bigger transportation funding package and went with a smaller one that would borrow $300 million and repay it with federal highway payments.
Then, the full Senate rather than going with the amendments to the income tax bill decided to “radiator cap” it and replace it with a measure eliminating both the sales tax on groceries and the grocery tax credit. This maneuver, where a bill is completely rewritten on the House or Senate floor, doesn’t happen very often. The name comes from the idea that it’s like taking a vehicle and replacing it with a new one but leaving the old radiator cap; it’s a vehicle for something else now.
FRIDAY Senate State Affairs killed a bill brought by Brackett, R-Rogerson, to expand the castle doctrine and to specify that there is no “duty to retreat” in Idaho if you’re confronted violently. People had a mix of concerns, some more technical, some thinking it didn’t go far enough, some thinking it might lead to unintended consequences, and taken together it was enough to kill the bill for the session. Some lawmakers said they intend to work on the issue over the interim and come back with another bill in 2018.
The House State Affairs Committee held a long hearing on a proposed victims’ rights amendment to the state Constitution and plans to vote on it Monday. And the full Senate passed the Fish and Game fee hike bill as well as a bill hiking the sticker fee for out-of-state boaters, the latter of which is meant to raise more money to keep invasive species, particularly quagga and zebra mussels, out of the state.
NEXT WEEK a hearing is expected on Monday on the faith healing bill(s). It remains to be seen if they will hear one or both. The big issues of the week, and what will determine whether things wrap up next week or not, are going to be taxes and transportation. Will the Senate pass the grocery tax repeal? Will it pass the road funding bill before it? And what will happen when both bills get to the House? Stay tuned.