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Legislative review: Senate committee passes bill that could reduce regulatory standards for farmers
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Legislative review

Legislative review: Senate committee passes bill that could reduce regulatory standards for farmers

State of the State address goes virtual

People hold American flags Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, outside the Capitol building in Boise. Governor Brad Little gave his State of the State address later that afternoon virtually.

BOISE — The Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee passed a bill this week that could lead to less stringent regulations for farmers and ranchers in the state.

House Bill 167 would require the Idaho State Department of Agriculture to consider the economic implications of rules and regulations the department imposes.

“Where not prohibited by federal or state law, the requirements imposed on agricultural operations shall be economically feasible, based on data, studies, and other information,” the bill states.

The Associated Press reports the legislation comes after agriculture groups in the state tried, and failed, to get the department to reduce the standards regulating the amount of cow manure that can be placed on fields as fertilizer. Cow manure contains phosphorous, which can pollute waterways through runoff or seeping into the ground and rising to the surface in springs.

According to the Associated Press, Bob Naerebout of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association — one of the groups supporting the bill — told the committee that the industry wants to follow the state’s regulations, but ones that aren’t economically sustainable shouldn’t be in place.

The bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote. It passed through the House in February with a 57-10 vote.

Legislative review: House committee postpones decision on hemp bill

Legalizing hemp

A few days after delaying a vote on a bill to legalize industrial hemp in Idaho, the House Agricultural Affairs Committee passed the legislation on Tuesday.

Idaho is the only state in the country that hasn’t legalized industrial hemp, which is a variety of cannabis with a THC concentration of less than 0.3%. THC is the psychoactive compound present in marijuana.

In December 2018, Congress passed legislation that removed hemp’s status as an illegal substance. And in January, the United States Department of Agriculture released its final rule governing industrial hemp production in the country, Braden Jensen, a representative with the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, told the committee on Feb. 24.

Despite this federal action, hemp remains listed on Idaho’s Schedule I controlled substance list, and House Bill 126 wouldn’t remove hemp from this list altogether. Instead, it would only legalize hemp for farming purposes.

During the first committee meeting on this legislation, multiple lawmakers said they would rather see a bill move forward that removes hemp from this Schedule I list so that Idahoans could legally access hemp-based products containing THC concentration levels below 0.3%.

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“I know it does need to be removed, but based on the political climate and our administration here in the Capitol, I don’t think it would ever go anywhere,” Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, said during the committee’s Feb. 24 meeting.

After passing through the committee, the bill moves to the full House for a vote.

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Sex education opt in requirement

Parents would have to opt in before their kids could receive some sex education lessons in school under a bill the House passed on Friday.

The legislation, if enacted, would change existing state law that allows parents the option to prevent their children from receiving sex education lessons in school.

Under this law, parents would have to complete a written form two weeks prior to the sex education lesson. These are lessons that cover the topics of “sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, eroticism, sexual pleasure, or sexual intimacy.”

The House passed the legislation with a 56-12 vote.

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Defunding abortion providers

The House passed legislation on Tuesday that aims to prevent public funding from reaching abortion service providers of any kind.

House Bill 220 would prevent all levels of government — including cities, counties, school districts and public health districts — from contracting or participating in commercial transactions with abortion providers. The bill also prohibits public employees from assisting someone in receiving an abortion or counseling them about their abortion options.

The Associated Press reports that opponents to the legislation say it could prevent some women from accessing cancer screenings, birth control and other services offered by providers such as Planned Parenthood. Other lawmakers opposed to the bill because it didn’t ban abortion altogether.

After passing the House with a 55-14 vote, the legislation heads to the Senate.


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