As the snow melts and floodwaters advance across the state, legislators are wading into the weeds. I share a couple of troubling outcomes below. But it wasn’t all bad: the hybrid tax was repealed and a measure was introduced to help Idaho prevent and contain invasive species. You can read more about conservation issues at the Statehouse on our bill tracking webpage.
Selling Off Public Lands
A troubling new bill from Sen. Vick (R-Dalton Gardens) would require all state agencies to prioritize their lands that "are not necessary to their public purpose." The bill could have far-reaching effects to easements, public access and legal commitments to acquire lands. You could see “Private Property-No Trespassing” signs popping up throughout Idaho. This measure, part of efforts to take over our public lands, represents a threat to Idahoans’ quality of life.
Climate Change Scrubbed from Idaho Science Standards
Despite support from the Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and over 96% of commenters, House Education Committee members decided that they know more about science than a committee of highly awarded science educators and other experts.
During consideration of the science standards, Rep. Scott Syme (R-Caldwell) successfully introduced amendments that erased references to climate change. The rules are only temporary, so we expect that the complete standards, including the deleted sections, will be reconsidered in 2018.
Hybrid Tax Repeal Passes House
The Idaho House unanimously passed a hybrid tax repeal, removing the $75 fee that gas hybrid owners have had to pay. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Steven Harris (R-Meridian), passed by a 27-7 vote last year in the Senate so will likely be on its way to the governor soon.
Invasive Species Bill Introduced
Along with a number of other legislators, Sens. Jim Rice (R-Caldwell) and Mark Harris (R-Soda Springs) introduced a bipartisan measure to create an office of invasive species, allowing the state to better prevent and control invasive species. Last year, invasive mussels were discovered in Montana, and Idahoans are concerned about potential harm to Idaho’s lands, waters and wildlife.
This week, I present the Mani-Tie of the Week! While we don’t have manatees in Idaho, we do have other invasives.