Legislative lowdown: Five bills to keep an eye on

The Idaho State Legislature meets in Boise from early January to mid-March. Photo credit: Idaho.gov

Over 100 bills have been introduced by representatives and in the Idaho Legislature over the last month. Here are some of the highlights.

Idaho Senate

Allowing guns on college campuses

The bill amends the current Idaho code to prohibit administrations of public colleges and universities (including trade schools and community colleges) from placing limits on the possession, carrying or transportation of concealed weapons and ammunition possession on campus grounds.

If enacted, this bill would go into effect on July 1.

No more marriage licenses?

This legislation eliminates the requirement for a marriage license and replaces it with, the recording of a marriage certificate with the county recorder. Instead of placing getting a marriage license on the shoulders of the couples getting married, it would be in the hands of the county recorder and the officiant to record the marriage. The couple would not be involved.

In an interview with the Idaho Capital Sun, Senator Scott Herndon, the sponsor of the bill said that, in his work as a pastor in 2017, he came across couples who did not want to have the state as a participant in the process.

“We have had numerous constituents, not just with religious philosophies but of different political philosophies that do not like the idea of the state being a participant,” Herndon said in an interview. “We’re not actually getting any added benefit by having the recorder be involved in that first step of the process, and in fact, we are simplifying Idahoans’ lives by having them not have to make one extra stop along the way.”

The officiant and county recorder would still be responsible for making sure couples can legally marry by checking their age and any chance of blood relation. The recorder would still receive a marriage certificate from a qualified officiant and record it with the state.

Idaho House of Representatives

Legislators turned lobbyists

According to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, a lobbyist is, “Anyone attempting through contacts with, or causing others to make contact with, members of the legislature or legislative committees or an executive official, to influence the approval, modification or rejection of any legislation by the legislature of the state of Idaho or any committee thereof or by the governor or to develop or maintain relationships with, promote goodwill with, or entertain members of the legislature or executive officials.”

Lobbyists inform legislators about certain issues and can come from anywhere including former elected officials and executive branch employees. The bill would impose a six-month waiting period for these groups once their employment ends.

Representatives John Gannon and Jaron Crane said this legislation helps prevent conflicts of interest that may occur as a legislator transitions out of office and helps to promote public confidence in the legislative process

Doug Ricks, a member of the Idaho Senate representing Madison County, said the bill addressed some of the concerns Idahoans had about the influence of lobbyists.

“It gives people more assurance that there are not backroom deals going on,” Ricks said.

While the bill still needs a vote in the House before coming to the Senate, if the bill did come to the Senate, Ricks said he’d likely be in favor depending on amendments added.

Student ID ≠ Voter ID

This bill would amend Idaho law to prohibit the use of student IDs for personal identification at polling places and prohibit personal affidavits to help preserve election integrity.

According to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, personal affidavits are used if a voter is not able to provide a photo ID at the polling place that swears to his or her identity under penalty of perjury.

Rep. Tina Lambert, in an article by Idaho ED news, said her constituents in Caldwell are concerned out-of-state students will use their school ID to vote in Idaho while also voting absentee in their home state.

No government funds for abortion

The No Funds for Abortion Act amends existing Idaho law that allows the state to withhold sales from local government entities that defy state law and refuse to investigate or enforce Idaho criminal abortion statutes and use their tax money.

If a local government chooses not to comply with these statutes related to criminalized abortion, their funds from the state will be forfeited and deposited into the state’s general fund budget.