State Politics

Redistricting to child marriage: Here’s where bills stand in Idaho’s legislative process

Highlights from Brad Little’s first State of the State Address

On Monday, January 7, Gov. Brad Little gave his first State of the State Address focusing on education, health care, public safety, transportation and more.
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On Monday, January 7, Gov. Brad Little gave his first State of the State Address focusing on education, health care, public safety, transportation and more.

Getting a bill passed in the Idaho Legislature is no easy feat. Typically less than half of proposed new laws actually make it to the governor’s desk for signature.

Last year, Idaho lawmakers drafted 799 pieces of legislation. Of those, 353 became law — a 44 percent success rate.

To become law, each proposal must clear several hurdles: a germane committee votes to print the bill and hold a hearing; the germane committee holds a hearing to decide whether to send bill to chamber floor for full vote. Once a bill gets out of one chamber, it goes through same process in the other chamber. If it passes both chambers, it goes to the governor for an approval, or veto.

Idaho lawmakers have been in session for about one month and have already brought forth about 200 pieces of legislation.

Media and political wonks pore over each proposal, sussing out possible outcomes if it becomes law. But, with less than one of every two bills making the final cut, not everyone has time for this.

To help separate the wheat from the chaff, here are some bills of interest:

Annexation agricultural land: Prohibits cities from force annexing active agricultural land comprising five acres or more without the written consent of the landowner. Status: HB 25 passed in the House on Jan. 29 and in the Senate on Feb. 11. Goes to Gov. Brad Little for approval.

Annexation forest land: Prohibits cities from force annexing forest land comprising five acres or more without the written consent of the landowner. HB 92 introduced Feb. 6; awaits House committee hearing.

Boise River Anderson Ranch Dam: Proposal supports raising Anderson Ranch Dam to provide an additional 29,000 acre feet of water storage on the Boise River and urges Idaho’s congressional delegation to ensure completion of the federal feasibility and environmental studies. Status: HJM 4 introduced Feb. 8; awaits House committee hearing.

Bounty hunters: Idaho has no regulations for bounty hunters. This is the fourth attempt to create regulations. Status: Introduced Friday afternoon; awaits a bill number and Senate committee hearing.

Hemp: Legalizes production of hemp under parameters set by new federal Farm Bill. Status: HB 122 introduced Feb. 8; awaits House committee hearing.

Law enforcement blue alert system: When Idaho State Police identifies a suspect who has threatened, injured or killed a law enforcement officer, it can issue an alert similar to an Amber Alert. Status: SB 1004 passed the Senate on Jan. 29; awaits House committee hearing.

Liquor license reform: Currently all liquor-by-the-drink licenses are issued by Idaho State Police based on a city’s population. This bill would allow cities and counties to issue non-transferable liquor licenses to restaurants and hotels, not bars. Status: S1040 held in Senate committee on Feb. 10 so bill’s sponsor can work on a compromise bill.

Marriage: Idaho has no minimum age for marriage and one of the highest rates of child marriage. This bill would permit 16- and 17-year-olds to marry only if they consent to the marriage, have written consent from parents or legal guardian and permission from the court. Status: HB 98 introduced Feb. 6; awaits House committee hearing.

Marijuana possession: A convicted first-time marijuana possession offender can ask the court to change from misdemeanor conviction to infraction after paying a fine or doing community service and taking drug/alcohol class. Status: H 140 introduced Feb. 11; awaits House committee hearing.

Mental health crisis hotline: Requests Idaho’s congressional delegation to secure the proposed 611 National Suicide Hotline designation from the Federal Communications Commission. Status: HJM 1 passed the House on Feb. 4; awaits Senate committee action.

Redistricting: Every 10 years, when it is time for Idaho to redraw its congressional and legislative district borders, a six-member bipartisan commission comprising three majority party members and three minority party members makes the decision. A proposed bill calls for adding a seventh member appointed by the governor’s office. This bill is a constitutional amendment, which means it needs two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate and the governor’s signature, then it goes to voters at the next general election, where it needs a simple majority to pass. Status: HJR 2 introduced Feb. 6 and OK’d by the House committee Feb. 8. The House on Feb. 12 voted to send the bill back to committee, effectively killing it.

Sex education: Parents who want their child to take a sex education class or participate in a class with any instruction or presentation regarding sexuality must file a written permission notice with the school district board of trustees. HB 120 introduced Feb. 8; awaits House committee hearing.

State park employees: Calls for stiffer penalties for anyone convicted of assault and battery against state Department of Parks and Recreation enforcement officers. Status: SB1023 passed the Senate 22-13 on Feb. 6; awaits House committee hearing.

Victim’s rights: Marsy’s Law would amend Idaho’s existing crime victim’s rights constitutional amendment, adding requirements that mandate victims be notified of court proceedings, have a voice in those proceedings and several other requirements. SJR 1 introduced Feb. 1 and OK’d by Senate committee Feb. 8; awaits Senate floor vote.

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Idaho Statesman investigative reporter Cynthia Sewell was named the 2017 Idaho Press Club reporter of the year. A University of Oregon graduate, she joined the Statesman in 2005. Her family has lived in Idaho since the mid-1800s.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.

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