MONDAY morning Rep. Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, introduced a new version of his bill to require local compliance with federal immigration laws that removed a requirement for police to check the status of anyone they arrest that can’t prove their citizenship. Like when he introduced the first version, opponents of the proposal packed the hearing room, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho and other groups promise to fight it.
That afternoon, House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, met with reporters to deny allegations made in an affidavit from a former House committee secretary and posted online by far-right websites accusing him of having had a sexually explicit conversation during a 2012 committee meeting. The woman who wrote the affidavit, he said, had been stalking him, apparently in the deluded belief they had a relationship. Numerous people who were in the room during that meeting also said what she described in the affidavit never happened. The websites that posted it framed their stories as Bedke being a hypocrite for having removed Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, from her committees early in the session for making a comment about female lawmakers using sex to get ahead. (Scott has since been restored to her committees.)
TUESDAY the House Judiciary and Rules Committee printed a tweaked version of a bill to put some restrictions on law enforcement’s use of civil assets forfeiture to seize property, as well as passing a law setting new rules for how long police have to keep sexual assault evidence kits, a complement to another major reform bill on how rape evidence is handled that passed last year. Most of the people at the meeting, though, were motorcyclists from all over the state including the Magic Valley, who filled the room to support a bill banning “motorcycle profiling,” or law enforcement stopping people because they’re riding a motorcycle. The committee passed this unanimously, sending it to the full House.
WEDNESDAY local Sens. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, and Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, introduced a bill to ban “rolling coal,” or modifying the engine or exhaust of a diesel truck so the exhaust comes out as a black smoky cloud. And the House State Affairs Committee printed a bill to legalize delivery robots.
A bill being sponsored by Rep. Clark Kauffman, R-Filer, to legalize small-dog racing at county fairs that has already passed the House was sent to the Senate’s amending order to make sure people can’t get around the provision in the bill limiting the length of the track to 150 feet. The House passed a bill sponsored by Scott to ensure sled dog races are also exempt from the state’s general dog-racing ban. And the Senate Resources and Environment and House Environment, Energy and Technology committees met jointly to hear about the threat posed by invasive quagga mussels, which have been found in two reservoirs in Montana not far from the continental divide and the Columbia Basin drainage area that covers most of Idaho.
U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador made a surprise stop to address the Idaho House Wednesday, praising President Donald Trump and touting the virtues of federalism — Labrador and many other Idaho Republicans have expressed hope Trump will return some federal power to the states.
“I’m impressed by this new president,” Labrador said. “He’s actually doing the things he said he was going to do.”
Labrador also criticized Trump’s opponents for the way they have reacted to his presidency. It’s normal to be unhappy when your candidates loses, he said — Labrador said he wore all black to school when Bill Clinton won in 1992 — but he said he views what’s happening now as different.
“People are reacting like this is something unusual or illegitimate,” Labrador said. “And that concerns me.”
THURSDAY the House State Affairs Committee voted to kill a bill to ban video gambling at tribal casinos. The Idaho House in the morning shot down a bill to expand reporting to the state’s immunization registry. That afternoon, Senate Health and Welfare heard Department of Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong’s proposal for a new and simplified vaccine opt-out form, plus testimony from several vaccine skeptics who support a bill that would let parents opt out of getting their children vaccinated without filling out the state’s form. While that committee was hearing about vaccines, across the hall the Senate Education Committee took testimony on the new proposed state science standards. The House Education Committee removed references to climate change and human impact on the environment from the proposed standards, and most of the people who testified Thursday favored adopting the full proposed standards, including the climate change references.
House Resources and Conservation introduced a bill to raise the sticker fee on out-of-state boaters to help pay for invasive species control, one of the recommendations of a group of lawmakers who studied the issue over the interim. The committee also voted on party lines to adopt rules for state grizzly bear management if the Yellowstone grizzlies are delisted.
FRIDAY a bill calling for a convention of states to pass a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution squeaked out of committee 5-4 and now goes to the full Senate. The House voted 45-24 to pass a bill standardizing early voting times statewide — the bill won’t change the current practice in some counties but there are some where it will have the effect of mandating early voting start later than it does now. Magic Valley Republicans Bedke, Lance Clow and Steve Miller, along with a handful more of their GOP colleagues, joined the Democrats to oppose it.
NEXT WEEK Senate Education is expected to decide whether to accept the proposed science standards. On Monday, House Judiciary will hold a hearing on a bill to charge heroin dealers with second-degree murder if a customer overdoses and dies. The balanced budget constitutional amendment bill could come to a vote before the full Senate. The budget-setting Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee is scheduled to set the Health and Welfare and public schools budget, a huge percentage of the state’s spending between them. And with so many other bills in the process and a month left in the session, I’m sure there will be plenty more coming up.