This article originally appeared on the Conservation Voters for Idaho Blog on February 19, 2019
With a busy week of committee hearings, there will be a lot of opportunities to attend, listen, or testify in committee hearings. These committee hearings are open to the public so legislators can hear your voice. We would love to see you at the Capitol to speak to your conservation values. Please reach out to Ryan, our Legislative Assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about how to participate, hearing etiquette or any specific issues.
Tuesday, February 19th:
- HJM8 would remove Wilderness Study Area designations on a number of landscapes in Idaho. This legislation, from Rep. Priscilla Giddings, is counterintuitive to Idaho’s collaborative approach to land management. These decisions should continue to be made with the input of local stakeholders and wilderness experts, not by legislative decrees.
- HCR8 is a resolution, also from Rep. Giddings, that asks the EPA to de-list certain superfund sites in Northern Idaho. With some areas in the superfund area currently untreated, future floods could cause the lead in the soil to spread to other areas. If the area is delisted as Rep. Giddings intends, Idaho taxpayers could be on the hook for cleaning up those contaminated lands. Additionally, we are hearing some concern from local communities in the affected area.
- HJM5 from the Idaho Association of Counties asks Congress to pass a law requiring that transfers of private land to the federal government be matched by the sale of an equal acreage of federal lands in that county. While we are sympathetic to the challenges faced by rural communities, this “no net loss” policy is impractical for effective land management.
- Outside of the House Resources and Conservation committee, there is an important bill from Rep. Ilana Rubel on Tuesday in the House Business Committee. H158 would prevent homeowners associations from banning rooftop solar panels in their neighborhood. This bill would both increase homeowners property rights and allow for Idahoans to utilize more sources of clean energy. Contact your legislators today about this important bill.
Wednesday, February 20th:
- S1090 is a concerning bill that is nearly identical to one promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an out-of-state lobby group dedicated to advancing large corporate interests in state legislatures. In 2018, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead vetoed a nearly identical bill calling it “flawed,” citing adverse impacts to farmers, ranchers, and landowners. With current laws on the books, like malicious injury to private property and criminal trespassing, we believe this particular bill with vague and broad language is not necessary.
- We are monitoring two pieces of legislation relating to campaign finance reform (SB1113 and SB1114) that will be in the Senate State Affairs Committee. Fair and transparent elections are a critical component of our democracy, and we will keep a close eye on this legislation to ensure it fulfills those values. We are hearing from some folks about concerns that these bills may create a ‘silencing’ effect on advocacy groups that would make it harder to communicate to their members about how legislators voted during the session, which would make it harder for voters to be informed when they go to the ballot box.
Thursday, February 21st:
- H110 is a bill from Rep. Scott that would limit the ability of Fish and Game to carry out essential inspections that prevent poaching. This bill could also have repercussions on the ability of Fish and Game to inspect for invasive species. Limiting these essential functions of Fish and Game would harm both wildlife and the vast majority of hunters and anglers who follow Idaho laws.
- H141 is a complex bill that would make a number of changes to the way mines are required to plan for reclamation and cleanup efforts. The bill takes some positive steps forward and we will continue to monitor the issue in committee.
While we know the timing of attending these hearings can be challenging for many, we would welcome any of you who are willing and able to attend. You do not have to be an expert to testify, but it’s important for legislators to hear that constituents are passionate about protecting our conservation values.