PAYETTE COUNTY — 15 weeks have passed since the Idaho Legislature convened for its 2021 Legislative Session. The Legislature has endured a COVID-19 shutdown as well as pushback from Gov. Brad Little on executive powers, and is showing signs of enduring long enough to break the record for the longest session in state history.

As noted by Robert Anderst of the Law Office of Risch Pisca, PLLC, this session is already the third longest in history at 103 days as of Friday.

Following are examples of legislation newly introduced since April 16.

House of Representatives

• Introduced Monday by the Ways and Means Committee, House Bill 375 seeks to amend Idaho Code Chapter 1, Title 33 to prohibit discriminatory teachings in the classroom, including “critical race theory.”

According to its official text, the bill seeks that teachers, employees and students of public school, including charter schools, “respect the dignity of others, acknowledge the right of others to express differing opinions, and foster and defend intellectual honesty, freedom of inquiry and belief, and freedom of speech and association.”

The bill’s first reading took place the same day, and it is reported printed and referred to the Education Committee. Noteworthy is that House Bill 377, introduced by Ways and Means Wednesday, also seeks to prohibit such discrimination, while adding a prohibition on expending money for these purposes. It passed the House on its second reading Thursday, 57-12-1.

Senate

• The State Affairs Committee introduced Senate Bill 1211 Tuesday to “revise provisions regarding the powers and duties of the Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board, wolf control assessments, the taking of wolves, and the control of depredation of wolves on livestock, domestic animals, and wildlife populations.”

Its statement of purpose says the bill is aimed at expanding options and opportunities for authorities to manage Idaho’s wolf population. Upon its third reading Wednesday, it passed the Senate 26-7-2. 

It was received by the House Thursday and reported as out of committee with a do pass recommendation for a second reading as of Friday.

• More of a celebratory bill, Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, introduced Senate Proclamation 103 on Monday to commend the Ada County Highway District on its 50th anniversary. It has been reported printed and referred to 10th order as of Tuesday.

Following are examples of bills which saw significant action since last Friday.

• Senate Bill 1110, first introduced by the State Affairs Committee Feb. 12, amends Idaho Code to require at least 6% of voters in each of the 35 legislative districts to sign a petition to get ballot initiatives in front of voters. The code previously required only 6% of voters in 18 districts to qualify an initiative.

According to its statement, the bill’s purpose is to “increase voter involvement and inclusivity in the voter initiative/referendum process. This will be accomplished by ensuring signatures are gathered from each of the 35 legislative districts, so every part of Idaho is included in this process.”

It first passed the Senate 26-9-0 on March 1, before passing the House 51-18-1 April 7. It was delivered to Little for his signature on April 12 and signed into law Monday.

• As previously reported by the newspaper, Little vetoed House Bill 135 and Senate Bill 1136a, stating  in a news announcement April 16 that the bills would “handcuff” the Governor’s ability to respond to future statewide emergencies requiring activation of Idaho National Guard resources. The House voted 48-19-3 to override the veto of HB 135 Wednesday and will send the bill to the Senate for its override vote. The Senate vote to override the veto of SB 1136a failed 23-12 on Monday. Override votes require two-thirds approval under Article IV of the Idaho Constitution.

• House Bill 252, introduced Feb. 25 by Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, R-Lewiston, adds pivot corners and land that supports agricultural use of qualifying properties to what is considered “land actively devoted to agriculture” under Idaho Code 63-604. After passing the House 70-0 March 8 and the Senate 35-0 on April 12, it was delivered to Little on Thursday. He signed it into law Friday.

• Senate Joint Memorial 104, title the “Federal Partnership on Criminal Justice,” urges the federal government to respect state criminal justice partnerships and to seek change by forming partnerships instead of issuing mandates. It was first introduced by the Judiciary and Rules Committee March 11 and received a passing vote in the House 60-5-5 on April 12. It was reported delivered to the Secretary of State Monday.

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