It’s getting exciting at the Statehouse, with a slew of new and revised bills coming before committees. Like an action-packed movie, they’re coming “fast and furious” because of this week’s (supposed) deadline to introduce bills in the House.
We saw measures introduced to raise fish and game license fees, rewrite the laws governing oil and gas development, encourage designation of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve as a national park, control invasive species, prohibit coal rolling and more. Grab some popcorn and take a seat! As we enter the final month of the legislative session…it’s bound to be a great show!
Attack of the Killer Yew
Sen. Lee Heider (R-Twin Falls) introduced a measure to designate the Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata) a noxious weed. Given the rash of wildlife deaths-including 50 pronghorn antelope and more than two dozen elk in separate incidents-it’s a no-brainer that this toxic plant is unwelcome in Idaho.
Invader at the Gates
Now that nonnative aquatic mussels have invaded Montana, concern is high over the threat these critters pose to Idaho’s waters. From clogging canals and reservoirs to choking out native habitat for salmon, steelhead and trout, costs to Idaho are conservatively estimated to run into the hundreds of millions. We are aligning with a broad spectrum of organizations who support boosting funding for boat-check stations, increasing fees for out-of-state boaters, and better coordinating with neighboring states and jurisdictions. Take a moment and contact your legislators.
Land Lovers Prepare to Storm the Statehouse
On Saturday, March 4, upwards of 1,000 Idahoans are expected to profess their love for public lands at a rally on the Capitol steps. Speakers representing Native American tribes, outdoor recreation businesses, motorized enthusiasts and sportsmen will encourage us to join arms and support keeping public lands in public hands. Join us! And if you can’t join us, contact your elected officials.
Rolling Coal, Hidden Dragon
Sen. Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum) introduced a measure to prohibit “rolling coal.” Amazingly, people modify their diesel engines to belch out thick plumes to intimidate other drivers, pedestrians or bicyclists. Why? Apparently, they have nothing better to do. The bill would allow police to pull over and cite drivers for recreational pollution.
Climate Change-A Real Life Horror
The Senate joined the House this week in striking references to climate change from the Idaho science standards. Despite ample testimony, the Senate Education Committee followed the House’s lead and struck five references to climate change, biodiversity and humans’ effects on the environment.
The good news is that not everyone has their head in the sand. Mark your calendar for a March 15 citizens’ forum on climate change. Sponsored by Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise), ICL and Conservation Voters for Idaho, the forum features Idaho experts who have seen firsthand how changing conditions are affecting Idaho’s agriculture, rivers, forests, wildlife and economy. If you attend, you’ll learn what Idahoans are doing to respond to the real threats posed by climate change.
And this issue leads to my tie of the week. The periodic table tie honors Idaho science teachers who spent countless hours developing the standards, only to see them go down in the House and Senate education committees. Stay strong, teachers!