This article originally appeared on the Idaho Conservation League Blog on March 22, 2019.
Working together with sportsmen, conservationists, public land lovers and other partners, we were able to send a resounding message to legislators that we want Public Lands to remain in Public Hands.
It was a week dominated by discussions around getting to the finish line. The problem is, the Legislature doesn’t appear to be making a whole lot of progress toward actually getting there. The big disappointment was that the Revenge Against Voters Act passed the Senate this morning by one vote and is on its way to the House. There’s still time to contact your Representatives and the Governor to oppose this bill that would strip the people’s Constitutional powers granted by our forebearers.
Speaking of finish lines, ICL attended Governor Little’s signing ceremony for the Solar HOA Bill, along with the Idaho Clean Energy Association and sponsors Reps. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) and Randy Armstrong (R-Inkom). But there was much more action in the People’s House this week as they head towards possible near-adjournment next week (remember…they’ll probably wait around for 5 days to see if the Gov. is gonna veto anything), so without further ado.
Public Lands Dodgin’ Bullets
The BIG NEWS is that after tens of thousands of emails and calls, it appears that House Bill 162 (Federal Lands Council) will remain on the shelf until the final gavel falls. Working together with sportsmen, conservationists, public land lovers and other partners, we were able to send a resounding message to legislators that we want Public Lands to remain in Public Hands. Our efforts had real results, and we are grateful, but will remain vigilant in the face of efforts to seize and control our public lands. In other related news, the Exploding Target Ban Bill barely eked out of the House Resources Committee on Thursday and should be up for a final vote in the House next week. The bill makes sense despite some of the claims made by opponents during the committee discussion.
Revenge Against Voters Act
On Friday morning, Senate Bill 1159 was passed by the Senate with a one vote majority. It will be considered in the House next week. If enacted, it would take power away from citizens to enact laws when the Legislature refuses. Our lands and waters have benefited from this process through the creation of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, Sunshine Laws (transparency in elections and lobbying), and the Idaho Dredge and Placer Mining Act which established the official policy of the state of Idaho: Clean Water in our Streams is in the Public Interest (it passed with 85% of the vote in 1954, BTW). The bill would relegate the process to only well-funded professional campaigns that could gather signatures in 32 of 35 districts, from 10% of all registered voters in less time than is currently allowed. Your Reps, and eventually the Governor, need to hear from you about this troubling bill.
There are always bills that remain stalled in one way or another, and 2019 proposals are no exception. We mentioned the Federal Lands Council Bill already, but some good bills, like Public Access Protection Act (PAPA) and Climate Change Committee proposals also remain stalled out. Others, such as a bad public lands roads bill from Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R-White Bird) didn’t receive a hearing. Likewise, Rep. John Green’s (R-Post Falls) effort to gut County Land Use Plansfailed on the floor (on a 30-38 vote).
In the End…
The legislative target adjournment date is Monday, March 25. Depending on what happens with Medicaid Expansion Work Requirements and any potential veto-able bills, there’ll be activity around the Capitol at least through the end of the week.
Tie of the Week!
This time of year, I break out my ugly ties to encourage Idaho legislators to head home to their families. It’s a statehouse tradition dating back decades (I think AP reporter Bob Fick may’ve started it?)… So, this week’s tie pays fitting tribute to our ancestors who helped craft documents like the U.S. and Idaho Constitutions, and who understood that putting power in the hands of people is a GOOD THING. That’s something we should recognize, perpetuate and defend!