Historic Theater Bill Clears the Senate. Sen. Michelle Stennett (D-Sun Valley) carried Rep. Mat Erpelding’s (D-Boise) historic theater bill on the Senate floor and it passed on a 25-10 vote. It now heads to the governor to be signed into law.

The legislation allows for theaters that are on the Historic Registry to sell beer and wine. In order to qualify for the legislation, theaters must be built before 1950 and have been added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

Sen. Stennett explained why she chose to carry the legislation on the Senate floor. “There are historic theaters all over the state that have incredible historic value. In District 26, the Schubert Theater in Gooding is part of the cultural fabric of the area. It is important that we prioritize preserving these valuable places.”

“Historic theaters are an important part of several communities in Idaho,” said Erpedling. “In many towns, they serve as a hub for events, meetings, and activities. I am pleased that the House and Senate have voted to assist these theaters in supporting their ongoing existence. This legislation will help keep many of the cultural significant theaters afloat.”

Upcoming public events on Gov. Brad Little’s calendar                        

TUESDAY, March 12, 2019

Governor Little will sign SB 1028a bill identifying Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) as an occupational injury that affects Idaho's First Responders, in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office at 10 a.m. 

Governor Little will issue a proclamation for National Multiple Sclerosis Day in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office at 1 p.m.

Governor Little will sign HB 68, a bill to revise provisions regarding the calculation of public employee retirement benefits for state legislators, in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office at 2 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, March 13, 2019

Governor Little will issue a proclamation for Boise State University Day in the First Floor Rotunda at 10 a.m.

THURSDAY, March 14, 2019

Governor Little will sign HB 76, a bill to clarify Idaho code with regard to electric bicycles, in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office at 10 a.m.

FRIDAY, March 15, 2019

Governor Little will sign HB105, a bill to create a 'Pet Friendly' license plate, in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office at 1:30 p.m.

Press Conference on Post-Secondary Education. Today, (March 11) Sen. Grant Burgoyne will hold a press conference at 12:30 p.m. in the fourth floor Senate Lounge in the Idaho State Capitol (W423). He will announce ambitious legislation to make postsecondary education more accessible to Idahoans. 

Burgoyne started working with several stakeholders on draft legislation after Idaho had not met its "60% goal" for several years. Over seven years ago, the Board of Education announced that it wanted to have 60% of 25 to 34-year-olds in Idaho obtain a post-secondary education by 2020. As of 2018, only 42% had obtained post-secondary education. This revolutionary legislation will be the solution to our problems. 

Rep. Wintrow’s ‘Test All’ Bill Clears First Hurdle in Senate. Rep. Melissa Wintrow’s Test All bill has passed the Senate Judiciary and Rules committee with a unanimous vote. The legislation would eliminate exceptions to testing sexual assault kits so that law enforcement will “test all” kits with very rare exceptions. The bill passed on the House floor with only one “no” vote. It now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.

Rep. Wintrow said, WWith this legislation, we are taking an important step to help victims in our state. We are working to center the victim’s voice and seek justice in the best way possible. This bill will help us to give sexual assault survivors information that could be necessary to make decisions about moving forward with a criminal case.”

Gov. Little appoints Jeffery Allen to Northwest Power and Conservation Council. Allen has been the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Idaho Office Director and Policy Analyst since 2008. He now joins Jim Yost as the second Idaho representative on the Council, which includes Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

The Council is an interstate compact that helps plan the region’s energy future and manage natural resources in the Columbia River Basin. The Council develops, with broad citizen participation, a regional power plan and fish and wildlife program.

“Jeff’s deep knowledge of natural resources along with his extensive network of regional relationships make him an asset to Idaho on the Council,” Little said. “I am confident Jeff will work well with our regional partners to protect and promote Idaho’s interests and natural resource-based economies in his new role.”

Legend Drug Donation Bill Heads to Governor to be Signed Into Law. Rep. Sue Chew’s (D-Boise) Legend Drug Donation bill, has passed the House and the Senate and now goes to the governor to be signed into law. The bill updates the existing Legend Drug Donation Act to allow individuals to donate drugs to places like medical clinics and health centers. The bill does not allow for controlled substances to be donated. Rep. Sue Chew hopes that this is an important step in giving Idahoans access to quality healthcare.

E-Bike Legislation Passes on the Senate Floor. The E-Bike legislation sponsored by Sen. David Nelson has passed the Senate with a unanimous vote and now heads to the governor to be signed into law. The legislation clarifies Idaho code with regard to a new category of bicycles; the “e-bike.” These bicycles use a small electric motor to give a boost to the rider when extra speed is desirable.

“Current law does not correctly address the technological advances of e-bikes,” said Nelson. “As we continue to innovate, Idaho must update its laws to accurately address changes in technology. Transportation is one of those places where we are quickly innovating and need to make sure we have the tools to handle that.”

Rep. Rubel’s Solar Panel Bill Heads to the Senate. Rep. Ilana Rubel’s Homeowner Solar Rights bill passed on the House floor with a 55-13 vote. The legislation prevents Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs) from prohibiting or unreasonably restricting the installation of solar panels. The legislation applies only to homeowners -- it cannot be used by those who are renting or leasing a home. The bill now heads to the Senate.

“By passing this bill, legislators have shown that they value Idahoans’ property rights,” Rubel said. “Homeowners should have the ability to make their own choices about what kinds of energy they want to use in their homes. This bill strikes a sound compromise between the interests of homeowners and HOAs.”

In the past, HOAs have prohibited the placement of solar panels on homes because they did not believe they were aesthetically pleasing. However, advances in technology have made the solar panels sleek and inconspicuous. Because of this, many HOAs supported the legislation.

Inaugural Climate Change Hearing in Committee. The House Energy, Environment, and Technology committee held the very first official Climate Change Informational Hearing last week. In 2017, Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) held a record-breaking climate change hearing but it was not in committee. This year, she worked with Rep. Rob Mason (D-Boise) to have an official hearing in committee. The two representatives co-hosted the informational hearing with Rep. Vander Woude (R-Nampa). 

“In 2017, we had extremely positive reception at our climate change hearing,” Rubel said. “It was important to Rep. Mason and me to follow up in seeking solutions to the problems that had been outlined in the initial hearing.”

Several speakers presented potential solutions to the ongoing challenges from climate change in Idaho. Representatives from Boise State University, University of Idaho, the Idaho National Laboratory, Hewlett-Packard, and Simplot explained some of the potential opportunities for the legislature to take action. There was no public testimony because it was an informational hearing.

Rep. Rubel’s Mandatory Minimum Bill Clears House. Bipartisan legislation reforming mandatory minimum sentencing, sponsored by Reps. Ilana Rubel and Bryan Zollinger, has passed the House with a 48-21-1 vote. The Mandatory Minimum bill, HB99. allows for judicial discretion when sentencing for drug offenses.

Under current law, judges are forced to give a mandatory minimum sentence even when they feel it is manifestly unjust given the circumstances. For example, there are pending cases of truck drivers transporting loads of industrial hemp with no knowledge of illegality who face mandatory sentences with no possibility of parole.

“Many lawmakers are eager to reform mandatory minimums because they realize they are forcing judges to make bad decisions,” said Rubel. “There are many cases where the judge says, essentially, ‘This sentence is unfair and unnecessary but my hands are tied by the current law.’ It is time to stop breaking up families and wasting taxpayer dollars on long sentences for nonviolent addicts. Let’s redirect some resources to treating addiction.”

Sen. Stennett Exploding Targets Bill Heads to the Senate Floor.  Sen. Michelle Stennett’s exploding targets bill passed in committee and now heads to the Senate floor. The legislation will align Idaho’s code on state lands with federal lands law to ban “exploding targets” during the designated fire season. The flammable targets have been one of the biggest culprits of human-caused blazes.

“Every year, an increasing number of fires in Idaho are caused by exploding targets,” Stennett said. “In July alone, fire officials said that at least 8 wildfires were caused by exploding targets in southern Idaho, burning tens of thousands of acres.”

These large wildfires endanger thousands of lives in the area including the firefighters who are keeping us safe. This is also a massive blow to taxpayers because federal, state, and local tax dollars must be used to stop fires. Several resources are destroyed in these fires: private property, wildlife, public lands, and tourist attractions.