We’re three weeks in and the legislature is gaining momentum. Several bills and rules moved through committees this week. Some good, some bad, some that leave us scratching our heads. You can follow what’s happening during the session by going to our legislative tracker.
From the Good News Department
On Wednesday, the House Resources and Conservation Committee heard a rule that deals with oil and gas development-including setbacks, how gas leases are spaced and water quality protection. As a result of this industry’s growth, especially in and around Payette County, citizens, landowners and even competing gas companies are increasingly concerned with lack of transparency and coziness between gas producers and the state agency that regulates them. This was a good example of numerous concerned interests coming together to oppose the rules, resulting in a 14-1 vote to shelve the rules. In order for the rule to be off the table though, we need a similar outcome in the Senate Resources and Environment Committee next Wednesday. Regardless of the outcome on these rules, we expect ongoing discussions about oil and gas development later this session.
From the Bad News Department
Despite testimony from the Idaho Conservation League and public health advocates, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee advanced a bill that will result in more field burning, which disproportionately impacts sensitive populations, including the elderly, infants and those with breathing problems. The bill is expected to be heard in the Senate next week, and will have another hearing in the House Environment, Energy and Technology committee, when and if it is approved by the Senate. You still have time to speak up!
From the Head Scratcher Department
Despite centuries of legal rulings that states do not have the ability to nullify federal law and a civil war that was fought over the theories of nullification, some in the Idaho Legislature still don’t seem to get it. This week, Rep. Paul Shepherd (R-Riggins) introduced a bill that would make the Idaho Legislature the final arbiter on what’s constitutional and what isn’t. First on Rep. Shepherd’s list would likely be the bedrock environmental laws that safeguard the air we breathe, the water we drink and the lands we love. If you’re scratching your head, you’re not alone!
Legislative Reception- Join Us!
On Tuesday, Feb 7, come on down to Beside Bardenay in Boise for the Idaho Conservation League & Conservation Voters for Idaho Annual Legislative Reception. It’s a great opportunity to mingle with your legislators and other leaders and to hear about some of the other issues we’ll be tackling in the statehouse this session.
Tie of the Week
In recognition of the unconstitutional bill to (supposedly) uphold the Constitution, I bring you… the Tie of the Week.
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