This article originally appeared on the Idaho Conservation League Blog on March 29, 2019.
“We sure pulled a fast one today, Tell the press, Dems and public ‘go away.’ Then call a quick drill. Introduce a new bill. Let no one but us have a say.”
The Idaho House of Representatives stooped to new lows this week by violating their own rules and sneakily introducing and advancing a slightly revised version of the Revenge Against Voters Act, designed to deter future citizen initiatives and referendums. Betsy Russell, the Idaho Press’s (intrepid and award-winning) Boise Bureau Chief, captured it best in her end-of-session (hopefully) limerick of the day:
“We sure pulled a fast one today,
Tell the press, Dems and public ‘go away.’
Then call a quick drill. Introduce a new bill.
Let no one but us have a say.” (Published with permission from the Idaho Press)
Like us, Betsy and the rest of the press corps (and most every legislator) are hoping that the Legislature goes back home soon!
Massive News from Outside the Statehouse – Idaho Power Goes Clean!
As is often the case, the biggest headline of the week didn’t emanate from the Capitol. Idaho Power announced major news that the utility will be 100% clean by 2045! The plan shows bold leadership and Idaho Power is one of only a small handful of power companies that have made such a commitment. As ICL’s energy associate Ben Otto noted, “Climate change and clean energy shouldn’t be a political issue. [Idaho Power] is following the dollars; they’re following the science.” Let’s hope others follow their lead.
So, What’s the Deal with Initiatives?
Last Friday, the Idaho Senate passed a bill restricting voter initiatives on a razor-thin 18-17 vote. Yesterday, the House was prepared to follow suit, but things got sticky. After all, dozens gave testimony and thousands of emails and calls flooded the statehouse, with virtually all opposed to the Initiative Rewrite (including former Sec. of State Ben Ysursa and five of Idaho’s former Attorneys General). So, the House threw together HB 296with some changes, but it would still make it extremely difficult to qualify a citizen initiative for the ballot. Both the revised bill and the original SB 1159 passed the House today. That’s why we’re asking you to encourage Governor Little to veto both bills today!
What Else is Going On?
A lot actually. Rep. Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay) introduced an anti-wilderness memorial, despite the fact that the bill introduction deadline passed on March 4! The measure won’t go anywhere, but it represents a threat to all the hard work that ICL and our partners are doing in North Idaho. Adding further to the list of disappointments, was the House’s narrow (35-33) rejection of the exploding targets bill. It would have banned shooting exploding targets on state lands during fire season, they’re already prohibited on BLM and national forest lands. After all, they have caused dozens of fires in Idahoand shooting has caused 30% of wildfires since 2015! Despite that, House members actually argued there was no way an exploding target could start a fire. Really? No … Really?? Check out this video of fire being started by an exploding target.
Not All Bad News
House Bill 162, sponsored by Rep. Judy Boyle (R-Midvale), was sent back to Resources Committee this week. It was an unceremonious end to a troubled bill that threatened to undermine ongoing projects and programs across the state to work together to manage, restore and improve our public lands. With your help, we generated close to 500 advocates and over 3,500 emails to change the direction of this bill! We look forward to working with bill sponsors and others to support, instead of subvert, these collaborative efforts.
The Residential Solar Disclosure Act is also headed to the Governor’s desk. It was supported by Idaho Power, solar installers, ICL and others, to ensure that consumers receive standard disclosures and protections at the time of installation and purchase.
In Other New
Discussions over Medicaid (work requirement and funding) remain the other prime holdout issue keeping legislators at their desks. After a federal court ruling Arkansas and Kansas Medicaid work requirements invalid, we are likely here into next week. Plus, as I noted last week, they’ll probably wait around for 5 days to see if the Gov. is going to veto anything).
I’ve still got plenty of ties in my closet, so I’m happy to progressively break out the “ugly” ones in keeping with the tradition of encouraging legislators to wrap up their work and head home … This week’s tie is dedicated to the Federal Lands Council bill as we KISS it goodbye…