We’re one month in, and Monday is the deadline to introduce legislation. Just like the snow in our mountains, the bills are piling up! As the legislature starts to hit its stride, several noteworthy public lands-related bills stumbled out of the starting gates and the House Ed Committee took an axe to education standards, but we successfully fended off attacks on Building Codes! Lots to cover, so let’s get to it…

House Ed Scraps Science…and More 

The House Education Committee finally voted on education rules, and this time they went further than they did in 2018. They also stripped out Science Standards, along with English and Math (and teacher certification requirements). Concerns remain over the inclusion of climate change, human impacts on the earth, and a new one this year…not enough talk about biomass. 

The 5-year saga over science standards has been long and complicated, but the good news is that the Senate Education Committee will once again have the opportunity to restore the standards with a vote as soon as next week!

Pro Public Lands Measures Stumble

Sen. John Gannon (D-Boise) attempted to introduce a measure in the House Resources Committee that would have provided citizens with the right to challenge illegal posting of public lands. As hard as it is to believe, some landowners poach public lands by posting public lands as private. 

Currently, only county sheriffs have authority to issue citations. Gannon’s bill would have changed that, but it was a step too far for the committee, which refused to even introduce the bill for a future hearing. 

The committee also turfed a resolution from Rep. Rob Mason (D-Boise) that simply recognized the historic anniversaries of several public land designations, including Craters of the Moon, Central Idaho Wilderness (now the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness), Hells Canyon Recreation Area, Sawtooth National Forest, Morley Nelson Birds of Prey Conservation Area and Grays Lake Wildlife Refuge. 

It too failed by a wide margin, begging the question: Does the House Resources and Conservation Committee truly value our public lands and our ability to access them? 

Power to the People – EVs and Building Codes

Last week, we reported on an attack on the Idaho Building Codes and the Energy Efficiency Code in particular. Despite efforts to strike the entire Energy Efficiency code, a majority of Senate Commerce Committee members supported Sen. Jim Guthrie’s (R-Inkom) motion to adopt the entire docket. 

The next day, the same Senate Committee also voted to advance resolution SCR 127 to the Senate floor. The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum) and Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise), encourages the Idaho Building Code Board to consider Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure as a component of future building code revisions.

Across the Rotunda, things went the other way on Rep. Joe Palmer’s (R-Meridian) motion to strike the entire Energy Efficiency Code. That motion sailed through on a party-line vote, despite the fact that Rep. Palmer never disclosed what his motion did! Because rules must only be approved by one chamber, the Code is approved for now…

No-Wake Zones, Dams and Trespassing Hogs

As we noted, the bill introduction deadline is Monday, and bills are crawling out of the woodwork. Among them is House Bill 397 that preempts the ability of local governments from establishing no-wake zones beyond 200 feet for motorboats

The introduction by the House Resources Committee immediately followed a detailed presentation from UI’s Dr. Frank Wilhelm, who spoke on the ecology of lakes and the importance of locally-developed no-wake zones based on a lake or river’s individual characteristics. Increasingly popular “Wake Boats” are designed to create larger waves, which can have more far-reaching impacts, including exacerbating erosion and toxic algal outbreaks, according to Dr. Wilhelm.The bill is a response, in part, to controversy in Valley County on a proposal to increase the no-wake zone on Payette Lake, which went back to the drawing boards.

In other water news, yet another memorial was introduced by Sen. Mark Harris (R-Soda Springs) that supports dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers, but is really targeted at the four lower Snake River dams. Unfortunately, it misses the mark and undermines ongoing dialogue to address the needs of agriculture, transportation, reliable and affordable energy, local communities and businesses, and endangered salmon. Instead of distracting resolutions, let’s focus on finding solutions that can actually help restore sustainable, harvestable populations of wild salmon and steelhead for all Idahoans!

Speaking of wild…the TOTW

This week’s tie of the week recognizes the efforts of Gov. Little under his Red-Tape Reduction Act to trim the reach of intrusive government. His bill would remove onerous laws on the capturing of wild-running hogs, so that we will no longer be burdened to post three legibly written notices in conspicuous places. Oh, and please don’t forget to submit your comments on the IDFG wolf proposals. Phew!

See you at the Legislative Reception on Monday!

Esto perpetua,