Another busy week in the Capitol, we saw marathon debates on several measures including a medical billing and debt collection bill that extended into extra innings. The House also approved, then rejected the budget for the Idaho Soil and Water Commission based on ongoing disputes and concerns related to the manager of the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District, who was recently sentenced for forgery. The House also directly defied a federal court order, overwhelmingly passing a bill on gender and birth certificates that could result in House members being held in contempt of court. We continue to see new bills being introduced, despite having passed the “bill introduction deadline” several weeks ago. Apparently rules only apply to some? Keep track of all the excitement on our bill tracker!

Speak up against the pesticide bill

Currently, it’s illegal to apply pesticides in a faulty or careless manner. According to changes proposed by the Idaho Agriculture Aviation Pilots Association, those who are responsible for their application would only be liable if they apply pesticides in a negligent manner.

There are only 90 licensed pilots in the state, but there are over 10,000 ground-based licensed applicators. In addition, there are many more unlicensed residential applicators. The Idaho Attorney General’s Office reviewed the bill and found that it would weaken the Idaho State Department of Agriculture’s oversight and enforcement over all applicators, potentially exposing farm workers, neighbors, and the environment to “faulty and careless” and counterfeit pesticide use.

Nonetheless, the House voted today to advance the bill, and it will be heard in the Senate soon.

Join with the hundreds of other Idahoans who have already spoken up about this problematic bill, and ask your Senator to reject this dangerous measure!

Dam memorial sails despite letter

Though non-binding, a pro-dam memorial sailed through the Senate on a voice vote this week. The measure was approved on the heels of a letter that was sent to the Governors of Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana urging collaborative dialogue on the issue. 

While it’s nothing new that groups were reaching out to their governors, what was noteworthy were the signatories. It included the Port of Lewiston and electric co-ops like Clearwater Power, and Idaho Falls Power, along with salmon advocates from Trout Unlimited, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council. They all recognized that we will only resolve these issues by coming together to meet the needs of all stakeholders. 

Snake bill snuffed

Rep. Christy Zito (R-Hammett) aimed to allow the importation of cold-blooded reptiles, and specifically venomous snakes, into Idaho. The bill rightly raised concerns for the House Resources Committee, who felt that it went a step too far so snuffed it. After all, pet stores are already allowed to import virtually any species into Idaho for sale, including venomous snakes.

The same committee advanced two other measures. One good: Rep. Fred Wood (R-Burley) and Sen. Steve Bair’s (R-Blackfoot) bill closing a loophole that only a poacher would love. The other bad: Rep. Paul Shepherd’s (R-Riggins) proposal that would inject politics into the Fish and Game Commission. Both measures are likely to pass the House next week. 

In other news?

The HOV lane bill advanced out of the Senate Transportation Committee on Thursday, its fate in the House is less than clear. Continuing challenges to the energy efficient building codes could be in store for next week, and we hope to see a hearing on the exploding targets bill from Sen. Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum).


Tie of the week

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Chinook salmon returns are expected to be near record lows this year, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation have again reached a conclusion that tweaking the status quo and continuing to operate the four lower Snake River dams are the solution. This week’s tie is dedicated to those who recognize that dialogue is needed to restore abundant, sustainable, and well distributed populations of salmon and steelhead in Idaho for present and future generations.

Esto perpetua,