HB 322: Federal Nullification – 2021
ICL's position: Oppose
Current Bill Status: Dead
Issue Areas: Clean Air, Clean Water, Constitution, Fish and Wildlife, Public Lands, State Issues
Rep. Sage Dixon (R- Ponderay) introduced House Bill 322 in the House State Affairs Committee. On April 6, based on a request from Rep. Dixon, the bill was sent to the Amending Order to make some “changes.”
This bill would supposedly allow the state to nullify federal law and regulations that “go beyond the powers enumerated to the federal government,” which is clearly inconsistent with the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
HB 322 would create a procedure for any Idaho legislator to issue a complaint to the Federalism Committee, an impermanent committee (as of now) that has failed to produce a single report and has violated its own directive in the short two years of existence. If the committee finds a federal law, regulation. or court ruling is “outside of the scope of federal authority or is contrary to the constitution of the state of Idaho,” legislation will be introduced to nullify the force and effect of that law, regulation, or ruling.
It is unclear how HB 322 would impact state agencies, many of which are funded primarily with federal dollars, to implement programs like the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, fish and wildlife programs, environmental cleanup, etc. If Idaho refuses to follow these laws, that funding would go away, and our rivers, public lands, fish and wildlife, air, and other resources will suffer for it.
What is clear is that the measure is so clearly unconstitutional that we are skeptical it will actually ever be enacted. It’s unclear whether the bill will be amended or if it was just sent to the Amending Order to die.
On Monday, May 3, the Senate State Affairs Committee finally gave the bill a hearing. As the only opponent of the bill to testify, ICL played a role in killing this bill, on a 6-3 bipartisan vote.