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Another busy week in the Idaho Legislature is coming to a close. We’re tracking numerous bills so you can learn more about the bills and our position.

Also, if you’re in the area, check out our legislative reception next Tuesday, Feb 23, 5-7 pm, at Beside Bardenay, 612 W Grove St, in downtown Boise.

Second Time’s a Charm?

Three of the bills that we highlighted last week returned for a do over this week. ICL remains opposed to all three:

  • SB 1338-This bill would allow counties to declare public lands a nuisance. The bill was prompted by out-of-state corporate interests intent on seizing Idaho’s treasured public lands.
  • HB 510-This  bill would exempt suction-dredge mining from state permitting and  oversight. In addition, it would open to year-round dredging tens of  thousands of miles of streams that are now closed. Each dredge could spew the equivalent of four commercial-sized dump truckloads of sediment into our rivers each day! The bill ignores effects on sensitive fish habitat and would undermine (get it?) the state’s proposal to have primacy over implementation of the Clean Water Act.
  • SB 1339-This  bill, proposed by the oil and gas industry, would prescribe timelines  and duties for the Idaho Department of Lands to respond to applications,  appeals and other matters. ICL is concerned about the 15-day timeline  by which the IDL must respond to an application. That means that the  agency would have 5 days to determine whether an application is  complete, 10 days to solicit input from the Department of Water  Resources and 10 days for public comment. While some of those timelines  could run concurrently, it doesn’t add up to protecting public interests.

Fire Suppression Costs Us Plenty

On Monday, the IDL presented to a joint session of the House and Senate resource committees on costs associated with the historic fire season of 2015.

After all costs are tallied, Idaho is on the hook for $60 million for suppression expenses. Some of this amount comes from assessments on forestland owners. (Rangeland owners don’t pay.) But the majority comes from you, the Idaho taxpayer.

Still it’s relatively small potatoes compared with the $200+ million that the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management cover each year. These are costs that the state would have to cover if it took over public lands.

Hybrid Tax Is on the Chopping Block

On Thursday, the Senate Transportation Committee advanced a proposal from Sen. Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint) that would eliminate the $75 tax on hybrid vehicles. ICL supports the move because, after all, hybrid owners should not be penalized for their efficiency.

Tie of the Week!

I don’t have a tie with oil derricks on it, and this is the only one that made me think of oil and gas. Stay tuned in coming weeks for a new fish tie, donated by an ICL member.

Until next week. Esto perpetua…