Several issues remain up in the air-including tax cuts and transportation funding. Yet the 64th Idaho Legislature is preparing to pack up and hit the road. Unless Rep. Heather Scott (R-Blanchard) and her band of merry pranksters can tie up the House for several more days.
Despite some challenges this session, we held off efforts to seize and control our public lands, passed bills that improve oil and gas leasing, and boosted efforts to control invasive species. As ICL’s lobbyist for a second year, I heartily thank ICL members for your support and words of encouragement. If you’re not already a member, join today to ensure that ICL remains “your voice for conservation” in the Statehouse for decades to come.
Invasive Species Bill Approved
We’ve been watching the invasive species bill, which establishes an invasive species coordinator in the Governor’s Office. The bill passed both the House and Senate this week, along with a significant boost of funding for boat check stations around the state, one of which found quagga mussels that had hitched a ride on a boat from Lake Havasu.
Oil and Gas Bill Glides to Passage
Last-minute negotiations resulted in a bill that won unanimous approval in both the House and Senate this week, even though the state’s lone gas producer, Houston-based Alta Mesa, vehemently opposed it. While minimal environmental protections were in the revision, the bill does improve transparency of drilling operations, codify 300-foot setbacks from homes and surface water, and increase the threshold for "forced pooling" (requiring landowners to allow drilling for their mineral resources). The bill is far from perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. Reps. Judy Boyle (R-Midvale) and Ryan Kerby (R-New Plymouth) and Sen. Abby Lee (R-Fruitland) deserve credit for their dogged perseverance.
Science Standards-Third Time’s a Charm?
For the second year in a row, the House and Senate education committees took offense to the proposed science standards, developed by an award-winning committee of the state’s most prestigious science teachers. This year, they excised references to climate change and effects of humans on the earth.
Legislators wanted the standards to reflect both positive and negative aspects of climate change. After all, maybe there will be great beachfront property in Idaho if sea levels rise!
Fortunately, the State Department of Education will reconsider the science standards, after seeking your input. Learn more and submit your comments today. The plan is to present the 2018 Legislature with revised standards ensuring that Idaho’s students receive a robust science education that is rooted in the scientific method. Imagine that!
Legislature May Be Winding Down…
… But that doesn’t mean that you’re done speaking up for Idaho values! For example, our congressional delegation is considering the administration’s proposal to cut Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31%. This would be a disastrous move for protecting the air you breathe and the water you drink. So speak up now for safeguarding the EPA budget.
On another front, you can also email your senators, Jim Risch and Mike Crapo, and your congressman, Mike Simpson or Raul Labrador, to urge them to protect our public lands!
Tie of the Week
As the Legislature approaches adjournment, lobbyists and reporters break out their ugliest ties to encourage legislators to head for home. Who am I to break with tradition?