As the second week of the session comes to an end, we’ve started to see actual bills introduced. Still, as is typical, consideration and approval of rules dominated committee agendas for the week. Also, rumor is  that we’ll soon see amendments to oil and gas legislation that passed last year.

DEQ Seeks to Loosen Regs

For years, public health advocates and farmers have  successfully cooperated on field burning standards. These standards have  allowed farmers to burn their fields, yet they have simultaneously protected people with respiratory problems. Now the Legislature is poised to consider a proposal from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality that would increase air pollution when conditions are at their worst.

The proposal threatens to upend the delicate agreement that resulted from a 2007 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision. The court found Idaho in violation of the Clean Air Act. If Idaho proceeds with the looser restrictions, the state could once again run afoul of the Clean Air Act.

Hybrid Tax Repeal Introduced

Rep. Steven Harris (R-Meridian) introduced a measure in the House that would repeal a tax on hybrid vehicles that was instituted in 2015.  Instead of encouraging people to buy low-emission vehicles-reducing our dependence on foreign oil-Idaho took the opposite approach and levied a $75 tax!

Now, tax-cut advocates, hybrid owners and conservationists are united in opposing this irrational tax. The measure passed the Senate last year, but the House refused to consider it. Let’s hope the House  Transportation and Defense Committee gives the bill a full hearing this year.

Stand Up for Science

As reported last week, both the House and Senate education committees are set to consider science standards that haven’t been revised since 2001. The updates are needed to bring Idaho’s students into the 21st century. Speak up now on behalf of Idaho’s children!

Feelin’ Gassy

Legislators from the Ninth District, including Reps. Ryan Kerby (R-New Plymouth) and Judy Boyle (R-Midvale), and Sen. Abby Lee (R-Fruitland) are working with Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter and others to craft legislation that would amend the oil and gas permitting rules established last year. Those rules benefitted gas producers far more than they did property owners. Although we’re still waiting to see the proposals, we are hopeful that they will better protect Idahoans’ property rights, Idaho  taxpayers and the environment.

Tie of the Week

This week’s tie is a nod to the clear blue skies that all Idahoans deserve. Clean air is a precious resource, and the state can protect it by encouraging low-emission vehicles and by ensuring that field burning doesn’t threaten the health of Idahoans who suffer respiratory illness. Because we all breathe the air, yes, even legislators…