Idaho State Legislature– Week 2

History was made during the second week of the 2020 Idaho State Legislature, as lawmakers in the House voted for the first time to expel one of their own.

There have already been suggestions among some State Capitol regulars that this year’s session will be running long. Time will tell on that, of course, but in the meantime here’s a brief look at Week 2 of the Second Regular Session of the 65th Idaho State Legislature.

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(Photo by Logan Finney)

After a lengthy majority caucus meeting, the Idaho House voted on January 16 to vacate the seat held by Rep. John Green (R-Post Falls) with no debate. Green was convicted on felony charges in Texas. Procedures are underway to fill his seat in the Legislature.

 

ISDA

(Photo by Riley Haun)

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture was among the agencies presenting before JFAC, the budget-setting committee.

“Our agency still tends to run pretty lean-it’s not accurate to say everything is perfect,” ISDA Director Celia Gould said, but highlighted success of increased market opportunities and better services.

Gould is requesting funds for a program manager position for Farm Forward, a new program she says will work to keep Idaho farms in families by supporting veterans, young farmers, and family farms.

Later in the week, the Board of Veterinary Medicine presented rules to the House Agricultural Affairs Committee, including fee increases for vet and vet tech licenses. Executive Director Jeremey Brown says it’s necessary to keep the agency running another year. He also answered questions from Rep. Bill Goesling (R-Moscow) about the state’s ongoing veterinarian and vet tech shortage.

“Are we producing enough veterinarians to meet our needs and are we producing the right kind?” Goesling asked.

“We are at a shortage,” Brown answered.

Agriculture note: Earlier presentations to lawmakers this session showed that Idaho has the 5th largest agricultural economy in the United States, based on farm GDP as a percentage of the state’s total GDP. Idaho’s 2019 cash receipts were more than $8.3 billion from milk, cattle, potatoes, hay, grain, sugar, and barley.

LittleOrdersJan16

(Photo by Riley Haun)

Gov. Brad Little signed two executive orders.

The first makes “zero-based regulation” permanent, so agencies will have to justify every rule they want to keep each year.

The second makes agency rules documents more transparent and streamlined, requiring guidance docs to be easily accessible and legible online.

Gov. Little says about 20% of rules chapters will be reviewed each year by their respective agencies, according to a staggered 5-year schedule, in order to spread out the burden.

Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill compares rules overhaul this session to cleaning out a hoarder’s house. “We got the house clean, now we have to work to keep it clean.”

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Also:

• Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued a proclamation on Friday declaring January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Idaho.

• Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Burdick delivered his annual “State of the Judiciary” address to Idaho House and Senate lawmakers. Much of the focus was on mental health issues, and what Burdick said was the need for a new course to deal with the state’s mentally ill.

• Idaho Content Standard hearings kicked off in the House Education Committee. Among many speakers were SBOE Pres. Debbie Critchfield, Supt. Ybarra, Deputy Supt. of Communications & Policy Marilyn Whitney, Rep. Moon (R-Stanley), and former Supt. Tom Luna. The hearing on science standards will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

• House Speaker Scott Bedke, speaking at the Idaho Environmental Forum, said he will be bringing legislation for a constitutional amendment to fix the number of legislative districts at 35. Currently the constitution allows a range of 30-35. Bedke on the redistricting commission: “we’re not going to mess with the numbers, so everybody can chill on that.”

Week 3 begins Monday, January 20, 2020.

(Reporters Riley Haun, Madison Hardy, Logan Finney, and Glenn Mosley contributed to this report)

Posted January 19, 2020

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