2018 Idaho Legislature Recap-Report
The 2018 Idaho legislative session is coming to an end, and all final bills were delivered to the Governor’s desk last Thursday, March 22nd. The Legislature has decided to wait the full 5 days to override any veto by the Governor. (If the Legislature is in session, the Governor has 5 days to veto a bill; once adjourned, the Governor has 10 days.) The House and Senate want to ensure that last year’s 11-day grocery tax veto fiasco will not occur again. The bright spot in this delay gave me an extra-long weekend, allowing me to come to the District and attend a pro-Second Amendment rally in Bonner County.
Liberty legislators dealt with a wide range of topics during the 2018 session. With our constant persistence, demands to adhere to the Constitution, and support from our ever-growing statewide citizen network, we had an impact on state government. Committee chairmen and House leadership finally listened to the voice of the citizens who demanded they hear our proposed liberty legislation. We won some legislative battles and lost others, but I can confidently say we saw the beginning of real and positive change in our Legislature.
For the first time in years, the majority of our bill ideas were heard, debated, voted on in the committees, and several have been signed into law. While never perfect and always dynamic, the process in the House appears to be moving in a direction favorable to proposed citizen legislation, which is what a representative republic should be doing.
Several liberty ideas originating from engaged citizens passed the House floor and made it to the Senate where, unfortunately, committee chairmen still adhering to “lock-it-in-a-drawer” politics let them die. More pressure by citizens is needed to eliminate this old-style way to control policy and maintain cronyism.
Conservatives stopped various big-government growth ideas by killing several bad bills and rejecting some of the proposed overreaching administrative rule changes.
Below is a quick summary of some of the good and bad bills and their outcomes:
Medicaid Expansion (Governor’s Bill H464)-
While this bill was touted as “helping the people in the gap”, in reality it was more like a “bailout for big insurance companies”. It would have forced ill citizens on private insurance to go on Medicaid. Then tax payers would pick up the tab for these folks to the tune of $100 million annually. The Governor wanted this bill and was even observed in Capitol halls asking the Health and Welfare Chairman if he had the votes yet to pass it. It was sent to the House Floor and then returned to Committee because they didn’t think they had the votes to pass it. Many wondered if the chairman was waiting for the candidate iling deadline on March 9th to see who didn’t have an opponent and may be likely “influenced” into a Yes vote. Voting on a bill puts people on the record, and all too often the establishment works to protect certain legislators from revealing their stance. While we may never know for sure if this was the case, the bill was returned to the House floor after the 9th and sent to Committee a final time. The bill FAILED, sparing taxpayers a real and potentially expanding financial burden.
Dropout college scholarship plan for adults (Governor’s Bill S1279) –
This bill takes money from high school student scholarships and sets it aside for adults who decided to leave college before graduating. I believe citizens should be in charge of where they spend their money, not forced government redistribution. This bill PASSED (37-32-1).
Marsy’s Law (HJR8) –
Idaho was inundated with lobbyists paid for by a California billionaire who was proposing a change to Idaho’s Constitution concerning victims’ rights. He used bully tactics and paid for internet ads of beat-up women, with a smiling legislator’s face looking up to them. He has pumped millions of dollars into other states across the country (sometimes over 10 million) to change their state Constitutions. Although he claimed to want to help victims, research showed that he has a Victims Protection Nonprofit which may have directly benefitted from this law, setting up a clear case of crony capitalism. Some legislators voted for it, even though they didn’t agree, out of fear of the messaging to the public in an election year. The bill received a majority of the votes but needed a supermajority because it was a Constitutional change, so it ultimately failed.
Tax Relief –
With $400 million in excess tax collections, Idaho owed it to families to reduce taxes. Citizens finally got a small tax cut ($174/household under the Governor’s plan), although liberty legislators wanted a bigger cut ($280/household). Even though the Governor’s weak tax plan won, Liberty legislators won a victory too. Leadership copied our tax cut trailer bill to increase the child tax credit and provide more tax relief than they originally planned. Liberty: $165 million proposed relief. Establishment: $90 million. Final outcome: $129.5 million. We had an impact. Conservative legislators are hopeful for a brighter future for Idaho families.
2nd Amendment – Three bills were passed into law:
House Bill 443 authorizes and encourages public schools to adopt and offer an elective
course in gun safety training and authorized instructors who will teach the courses. This bill was sponsored by Rep. Ron Nate R-34.
House Bill 565 (sponsored by me) allows retired law enforcement officers who have the 518 Concealed Carry cards to carry in K-12 schools, college dorms & residence halls and event halls that hold over 1,000 people.
House Bill 444 “Stand Your Ground – Castle Doctrine” Rep. Zito’s hard work on this bill laid the groundwork for Senate Bill 1313, a similar but not as strong approach to the Castle Doctrine. This bill will codify case law. Criminals need to take note that Idaho citizens will not be victims, and Idaho citizens will now be assured that the law will protect them when they choose to protect their families and homes.
We made progress in the pro-life battle by passing two important bills that become law on July 1st of this year. The Abortions Complications Reporting Act (HB638) requires every hospital, licensed health care facility or individual medical practitioner to report to the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare on the health complications arising from the performance of abortions. Senate Bill 1243 requires the Department of Health &Welfare to inform women of the availability of an abortion reversal pill in case they change their mind within 48 hours after deciding to take their babies life by a chemical abortion.
Overall, Liberty legislators in the House supported and passed multiple bills that reduced the size and scope of government, protected individual rights and supported veterans. Here are a few items of interest:
- Bills to reduce regulations for electricians, plumbers, HVAC techs, engineers, and surveyors, and reduced requirements for charter school administrators.
- A bill to help small wineries to label wine for small restaurants.
- A bill on civil asset forfeiture (H447).
- Private property rights were strengthened with a trespass law to clarify postings and discourage criminal trespass (HB658).
- A bill to allow a motorist to humanely dispatch a badly injured animal to put it out of its misery.
- A bill to allow breastfeeding mothers to feed their kids without getting a ticket for indecency.
- A bill to reduce regulations for short term home rentals,
- A bill to require the executive branch to follow open meeting laws, which they are currently exempt from!
- Rejected a rule change proposed by – the State Department of Corrections to remove “God” out of the Police Officers Standards and Training Oath.
It was very frustrating to have Senate chairmen lock many good liberty bills in their desk drawers. Below are just a few. A single legislator should not be allowed to veto (hold a bill) because they do not like it or they are being directed from someone in the executive branch to not hear the topic. Citizens need to speak up and encourage all House & Senate committee chairmen to stop suppressing the voice of the citizens and let the people’s voices and ideas be heard!
- HB577 CBD oil – passed the House floor (70-0) was held in a Senate committee chairman’s drawer by Senator Heider.
- HB419 American Laws for American Courts – passed the House floor but was held up in a Senate committee drawer by Senator Siddoway.
- HB473 Restoring Constitutional Governance (NDAA)- held in a Senate committee drawer by Senator Siddoway.
- HB639 Aggressive Taxing Districts Bond Election Limitations -held in a Senate committee drawer by Senator Siddoway.
- HB622 My Freedom of Speech on Campus – was held by committee chairman on the Senate side by Senator Mortimer.
The Senate also killed one of our great freedom bills, HB 449, a tax exemption on precious metals.
There is still work to do to increase the number of liberty Senators – legislators who will work for the people, not for the Executive Branch or lobbyists. A single chairman should not have the power to make an executive decision to lock a bill in a drawer; committees should be allowed to do the work their members were elected to do. We did it in the House and it’s working better, so we need to do it in the Senate!
Giving Credit where Credit is due:
As many of you know, the Speaker of the House – Rep. Scott Bedke – and I don’t always see eye to eye. But to his credit, he ran a fair and efficient House session this year and should be commended for it. There was limited micromanaging of the committee chairmen, and bills were discussed and debated on their merit. It was interesting and invigorating to watch the process work the way many believe it was intended to work. It made for a much smoother session. Most legislators were allowed to actually do the job they were elected to do and present legislation on ideas from their district. Leadership appeared less interested in the Executive Branch’s pet projects and more interested in listening to legislator voices. As recently as last week they allowed legislators to decide if we would stay to be able to override any possible Governor’s vetoes or go home early. I commend the Speaker for this and hope future sessions follow suit.
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