The target adjournment date for the Idaho Legislature is next Friday, but with more than 100 outstanding bills and issues remaining, the likelihood of legislators heading home by March 24  is slim.

ICL is still watching measures related to invasive species, oil and gas legislation, fee increases for fishing and hunting licenses, and spending bills, some of which haven’t even been printed yet. The danger is that as the Legislature approaches the finish line, bills often receive short shrift.

Oil and Gas Bill Finally Surfaces

Early in the session, we knew that revision to the state’s oil and gas statutes would be on the agenda. Landowners in Payette County are concerned that they aren’t receiving fair compensation for the removal of oil and gas beneath their property. The laws governing oil and gas exploration and development, passed in 2016, shielded many relevant records from  public review. Other oil and gas companies are concerned that Alta Mesa, the only gas company producing in Idaho, has largely written the rules to block additional exploration and development. ICL is now reviewing another version of the bill by Rep. Judy Boyle (R-Midvale).

Climate Hearing Draws Huge Crowd

Despite the chairs of the House and Senate environment committees refusing to hold a hearing on climate change, Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) worked with ICL and Conservation Voters for Idaho to host a hearing of our own. This hearing drew the largest crowd this session-the 650 in attendance filled the Lincoln Auditorium and four overflow rooms!

We heard from the state’s leading climate experts from Boise State University and the University of Idaho, along with speakers representing the high-tech community, renewable energy industry, ski industry, religious community, fire management and others. The presentation closed with students calling for action on threats posed by climate change-before it’s too late.

If you missed the hearing or want to relive it, you can listen to the audio archive  of the full hearing.

Senate Kills Coal Rolling Bill

Although some members of the Idaho Senate have been subjected to “rolling coal” (blowing large clouds of dark gray diesel smoke from modified vehicles)  and recognize the environmental and safety threats posed by this practice, the Senate narrowly defeated a bill to declare "coal rolling" as a misdemeanor. See how your senator voted.

Bulldozers in Wilderness?

Rep. Caroline Troy (R-Genesee) introduced a misguided memorial that lambasted a ruling from U.S. District Court Chief Judge Lynn Winmill that found that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game illegally landed a helicopter in wilderness to collar wolves without a permit. The memorial encouraged the state’s congressional delegation to advance legislation allowing the agency to access all state and federal lands-including designated wilderness-using whatever means it deemed necessary. Fortunately, based on concerns, Rep. Troy withdrew the bill before it had a hearing.

Fish and Game Fee Increase-Approved!

Today, the Senate followed the House’s lead and approved the first Idaho Department of Fish and Game fee increase since 2004. The additional funds will ensure that the agency can retain programs that protect Idaho’s fish and wildlife.

Tie of the Week

The last time I checked, we’ve only got one planet-regardless of your party affiliation. This week’s tie recognizes  the 72% of Idahoans who agree that climate change is happening.