State Politics

More than 300 new Idaho laws go into effect July 1. Here are the ones you should know.

“No trespassing” signs can be found along many roads skirting open range in the Boise Foothills. This one attracted target shooters. Lawmakers are debating the most sizeable overhaul of Idaho trespassing law in years.
“No trespassing” signs can be found along many roads skirting open range in the Boise Foothills. This one attracted target shooters. Lawmakers are debating the most sizeable overhaul of Idaho trespassing law in years.

Starting July 1, Idahoans will have a new set of laws to follow.

More than 300 pieces of legislation passed during the 2018 session go into effect that day.

Here are a few laws to remember:

Trespass law

One of the most controversial bills of the session, HB 658 updates Idaho’s trespassing laws, altering private property posting requirements and strengthening the penalties for those caught on someone else’s land.

There was widespread agreement among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that current trespassing laws could use a revamp, but critics of the bill cited concerns about the potential unintended consequences of HB 658.

Currently, land owners must post “No Trespassing” signs or other notices at 660 foot intervals. Under the new law, land owners are required to mark their land such that a “reasonable person” would recognize it as private property — a more subjective standard.

Supporters said the bill would clarify Idaho’s murky trespass laws and crack down on repeat, intentional offenders.

Opponents, including several outdoorsman groups, argued that the harsher penalties for trespassers, coupled with the more subjective standard for private property posting, could increase the chances that accidental trespassers face legal consequences.

Stand Your Ground

One of two Castle Doctrine bills introduced this past session was passed into law without the signature of the governor.

The law puts self-defense principles that already exist in Idaho case law and jury instruction into state code. This includes expanding the definition of justifiable homicide to include not only defending one’s home against an intruder, but also defending one’s place of employment or an occupied vehicle.

Supporters of SB 1313, including Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs, said it would clarify the existing legal standards for citizens who may not be familiar with case law or jury instruction.

“The point of this bill clarify what the law is so that citizens of this state understand it and don’t have to hire a lawyer to do research to find out what their rights are,” Loebs told the Senate State Affairs Committee. “A lot of people think that they have to prove that they are defending themselves in court, and that isn’t the case.”

Opponents of the bill argued that it could encourage people to “shoot first and ask questions later.” Several pointed to data showing increases in justifiable homicides in states that have enacted “Stand Your Ground” legislation and statistics suggesting racial minorities are disproportionately affected when such laws are put into place.

“In essence, we’re codifying presumptions,” Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, said on the Senate floor. “Law enforcement presumes innocence by law and so do the courts. This bill has an untrained person assume harm and guilt before innocence.”

SB 1313 passed along party lines among south-central Idaho lawmakers, with Stennett and Toone voting against.

The bill became law without the governor’s signature, with Gov. Butch Otter citing “the potential unintended consequences on our children” in a letter explaining his decision.

“[A] thorough review of this bill reveals some concerns that warrant further review during the next legislative session,” Otter wrote.

Online sales tax

Idahoans online shopping with certain out-of-state retailers will no longer have to report Idaho’s sales tax on their income tax returns.

Under current statute, if somebody living in Idaho makes an online purchase from a company based elsewhere, it’s the shopper’s job to report that purchase on their income tax returns and pay the owed sales tax — but not every shopper actually does that.

The result, Clow and other supporters of the bill said, is lost revenue and an unfair disadvantage to in-state retailers, who are already required to collect the sales tax upfront.

“We have retailers closing in Twin Falls,” Clow told the Times-News in February. “We’re losing retail jobs, we’re losing retailers, because of the competition. And some of it is very unfair.”

Starting July 1, retailers that meet certain requirements must collect that sales tax upfront, a change that Clow estimates could provide the state with an additional $22 million to $37 million per year.

The new law only applies to out-of-state businesses that gross at least $10,000 in Idaho sales annually and have some affiliation to an Idaho-based seller.

It’s less broad than South Dakota’s controversial law on the same issue, which was held up by the U.S. Supreme Court this week: South Dakota’s law includes businesses that gross a certain amount in South Dakota, but do not necessarily have any physical presence or affiliations to businesses there.

Left lane driving

Another new law from Clow aims to crack down on highway drivers going slowly in the left lane.

It’s already illegal in Idaho to “impede the normal reasonable movement of traffic” with slow driving. But this law takes things a step further, specifically forbidding slow drivers in the far-left lane of a controlled-access freeway from impeding other drivers who are traveling at the speed limit.