It’s worse. Way worse.

Not to be a whiner, but the Hits. Just. Keep. Coming. 

Last week started off with swift passage of three anti-ESG bills through the House State Affairs Committee. ICL testified against all three. We were joined by the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, who opposed one of the most threatening bills. All three later passed the House, and stand to cost Idaho taxpayers millions of dollars each year. See more below.

There was a troubling new Anti-Tree measure introduced by Rep. James Holtzclaw (R-Meridian). We’re calling it the Billboard Protection Act, a zombie bill returning from last year. The legislation would allow any business to remove trees or other vegetation up to 200 feet from the edge of any sign or billboard. This could result in the removal of trees across Idaho communities, and we plan to oppose this measure alongside Idaho’s urban foresters, city planners, business owners, and even other sign companies!

Rep. James Holtzclaw (R-Meridian) is reportedly representing the interests of a private billboard advertising company. Read more about it in the bill tracker, and Take Action!


We also saw statehouse action on Yellowstone Bear World, Payette Lake Water Quality, Rattlesnakes, and everyone’s favorite money pit: Stockwater

Sen. Kevin Cook (R-Idaho Falls) introduced a bill to designate Idaho’s state dinosaur. The Oryctodromeus (digging runner) was seven feet tall and 70 lbs and lived in the Cretaceous Period (45-165 million years ago). Its fossils were first discovered in the Caribou Mountains of Southeast Idaho in 2006. I’m pro-Oryctodromeus and I vote!

Finally, Idaho lost two icons last week. Former Idaho Governor Phil Batt passed away on his 96th birthday, Idaho Day fittingly, and will lay in state in the Idaho Capitol in the coming days. In addition the House took a rare pause today to attend the funeral of former-Rep. Dell Raybould (R-Rexburg) who passed away at the age of 89. Rep. Raybould was an expert on water issues and helped broker historic agreements regarding Idaho’s Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer. Dell’s granddaughter Britt Raybould (R-Rexburg) currently serves in his former seat, and his son Jeff Raybould serves as chair of the Idaho State Water Board. ICL joins other Idahoans to salute the lasting legacy they both leave, and recognizes their lifelong commitments to Idaho, public service, and community. 

Wildlife #1: Bear World bill rouses from its slumber

A bill put forward by a Rexburg-based private “zoo” called Yellowstone Bear World was amended in the Senate last week. It still proposes to exempt these facilities from state oversight, if they have a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) permit, but now provides limited oversight to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease related to importing captive deer and elk.

As a reminder, the bill appears to be a revenge bill against the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in response to the 2022 Notice of Violations. To boot, there’s also an ongoing investigation and potential citations from OSHA as well as possible further action from USDA.. 

First, it’s usually not a good idea for the legislature to jump in the middle of an ongoing investigation. Second, the bill would exempt private “zoos” from Idaho state regulation. I always thought the Idaho Legislature preferred local to federal oversight

If passed, the bill would eliminate oversight of import, export, propagation, bonding, and transport of any wildlife species that may be kept at these private zoos (with the exception of deer and elk, as noted above). Species in these “zoos” could include wolves, bears, mountain lions, snakes, and others that can threaten public safety, native wildlife, spread disease, and pollute wildlife genetics if they escape. Plus, without local oversight, we could see a recurrence of a Ligertown-like disaster that we saw in Lava Hot Springs in 1995. In that instance, local authorities didn’t know how many animals were there, how many escaped, and didn’t have any emergency bond to cover local costs. We changed the rules after that incident, and now another facility is trying to remove those rules altogether.  

Attacks on ESG easily advance

First, what is ESG? It stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance standards. It includes risk management considerations focused on climate-related risks, social and community impacts, diversity of leadership, exposure to regulatory risk, and hundreds of other factors related to “material risk.”

All three anti-ESG measures, House Bills 189, 190 and 191, flew through the House. Not a big surprise, as one of the bills has 46 sponsors, out of 70 House members. You do the math…

Nonetheless, Rep. Greg Lanting (R-Twin Falls) noted during House debate, “the very industries we’re trying to support are against this bill. It makes me wonder if we’ve thought this through?” Thankfully, he voted against HB189, along with 5 other Republican colleagues, and all 11 Democrats. In case you’re curious about the answer to Lanting’s question: No, they haven’t

Next stop for the bills: Senate State Affairs Committee. Fingers crossed the Senate will Think Through the unintended consequences of the bills, but don’t count on it. (Oh, and by the way, President Biden is expected to issue his very first veto on a separate ESG-related issue this week). It’s a vibrant discussion, to put it mildly.

As a reminder, the biggest impact to Idaho taxpayers will be from House Bill 189, which will increase the cost of public municipal bonds due to prohibitions that will eliminate access to capital (aka bond underwriters). By limiting access to these lenders, every sewer, water and other public project in Idaho will cost more.

Similar bills are creating a legal quagmire in Kentucky and costing Texas taxpayers upwards of $532 million in additional municipal bond costs. If these measures pass, expect school, fire, irrigation, road, water, sewer, cemetery and other public projects to cost more if they’re financed by bonds. Oh, and the Fiscal Note for the bills expects zero costs to the state. Go figure.

Prairie rattlesnake.

Wildlife #2: Slippery Snake Bill Slithers to Senate 

Sssspeaker of the House Rep. Mike Moyle (R-Star) and Judy Boyle’s (R-Midvale) Rattlesnake Bill slithered its way to the Ssssssenate after passing the Houssssse on a 55-14 vote. Okay, enough of that, I’m sssseriousssss.

Their proposal would allow the unlimited killing of rattlesnakes, even though no constituents nor the Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) requested the change. Unfortunately, this means it’s inching closer to unintended consequences: the decimation of local snake populations, impacts to other native species, increases in disease (Lyme, Hantavirus, Plague), and destruction to crops from increased rodents and pests

During House debate Rep. Boyle argued that the Idaho Fish and Game enacted a new rule a few years ago, that you could not kill a rattlesnake. From what we have learned, that’s inaccurate. IDFG rules have a bag limit of up to four snakes, and allow you to kill rattlers if they put you, your pets, or your property in danger, whether you’re on your patio or on the trail. Plus, removing rules will allow unlimited private collection of live snakes. Something IDFG and local authorities have struggled with in Idaho. There’s a chance Rep. Boyle might be tangled up, and we think she might be referring to rattlesnakes being listed as a Protected Non-Game Species in 2005, which acknowledges them as a vital critter in the ecosystem, but still allows them to be killed if they threaten you. 

Rep. Boyle also noted on the House Floor that she fears many of her constituents are lawbreakers because they may not understand these regulations. Is the lack of hunter education the justification for this bill? For decades, snake regulations have been in place, and we recommend ALL Idahoans learn the rules before killing or capturing ANY wildlife: Idaho Amphibian and Reptile Rules here. 

Take a moment to sssspeak up and let your Ssssenator know that you oppose this misguided bill

The shores of Payette Lake in McCall in winter.

In other news

Last Monday, Rep. Britt Raybould presented the Big Payette Lake Water Quality Act to the House Resources Committee. It would reauthorize a council that was created back in 1993, but has since expired, to promote water quality efforts in Payette Lake

Payette Lake and the community of McCall, which sits on its shores, are nestled in the heart of Valley County in West Central Idaho. The lake serves as the primary draw, breathing life into the region’s economy. Unfortunately, increased development and pollution contributes to annual algal outbreaks and other water quality concerns. So far, no confirmed toxic blue-green algae outbreaks have been reported in Payette Lake, but it’s only a matter of time. 

The bill was sent to the floor with a “Do Pass” recommendation from the House Resources Committee, on a narrow 10-8 vote. Then, on Thursday it was sent back to the House Ways & Means Committee, where we fear it may die. It’s unclear what the real concerns with the bill were, and we hope to see it resurface in the future.

I don’t have the space to go into everything, but bad transportation bills (HB 50, 55 and 87) are rolling forward (limiting $$ for pedestrian and bicycle safety), a troubling Critical Infrastructure Trespass bill was thankfully sent back to committee, weak Mine Tailings rules finally passed, a good barbed wire fence bill advanced, along with a good noxious weeds bill, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality awarded $35 million for water system upgrades, a new Stockwater boondoggle threatens to spend your money on private legal fees, and I uncovered new details through about a legislative legal slush fund, which has cost you $1.5 million over the last 2 years alone. And finally, the Idaho AG signed onto a Texas lawsuit regarding Waters of the United States

And I tried to keep it short…Phew!

Let me know what issues you’re interested in for next week’s update from the marbled rotunda of the Idaho State Capitol?

Tie of the Week: Trees! 

Did you know trees reduce crime, increase property values, save energy, and produce the oxygen that we breathe. This week’s tie recognizes the incredible benefits that trees provide. If you agree, take a moment to learn about the Billboard Protection Act, and take action to stop it below!


Amidst the concrete jungle’s heat and strife,

Urban trees are a boon to your life.

Eating up carbon, purifyin’ air,

They give back a lot more than they’ll ever share.

Their shade chills us out, the heat can’t compete,

Cutting back energy, a cash-saving feat.

Home values rise, with their embrace,

A garden oasis in asphalted space.

Climate and economies, so intertwined,

Urban trees are the best of both, combined.

Benefits so… immeasurable and vast,

A sustainable future, for us at last?

So stop it we must, Holtzclaw’s bad bill,

Don’t let the businesses make trees be killed.

So gather together, celebrate trees,

Leave them to grow, and happier you’ll be.


Until next week…Esto Perpetua,