I am taking a break from the Handing Over Idaho on a Silver Platter series to give you a quick update on the first week of the 2020 Idaho legislative session.
Legislative staff and new or substitute legislators were sworn in for duty and settled into their new tasks. The legislative staff are critical in helping the legislature stay organized and run smoothly and are the backbone of the daily activities that happen throughout the session.
I appreciate all they do.
Legislative committees started organizing and meeting almost instantly and have started to tackle the monumental process of reviewing the proposed rules.
This entails hard work and long debates for all of us involved.
As you may remember during the 2019 session, the legislature did not approve the administrative rule package (aka “omnibus going-home bill”). As a result, all 8,000-plus pages of administrative rules expired on July 1, 2019.
The Executive branch had to re-issue the rules as temporary in order to keep government business functioning as usual from July 2 through the present. This unprecedented 2019 legislative action gives the 2020 legislature a unique opportunity to reject any administrative rule they do not believe meets legislative intent.
We should take full advantage of this opportunity, but will we?
Remember, rule changes by bureaucrats are not supposed to change policy, they are only supposed to reflect the legislature's changes to policy as a result of passed bills from the last session. If an agency wants to change policy, they must propose it in a bill, not simply make a rule change. And they have.
Here is a link to 65 bills agencies have proposed for this year.
What does this mean for you, the citizen? All administrative rules, regulations and fees are up for negotiation. If you are dealing with a burdensome government regulation, this is the time to contact your legislator and voice your opinion. But you better act fast, because we have already started many of the dockets and there is only limited time to act before they get voted on. Please contact the legislators from your district to provide input on any rules.
Here is a quick look at my first week which was very busy and definitely not boring:
- Met with a group of constituents who have been dealing with injustices against a fellow Idahoan in the federal prison system and looking for ways the legislature might help bring information to light.
- Met with a citizen who is ready to get involved in his government and doesn’t quite know where to start. We started with a tour of the capitol and a review of the process and system.
- Met with the President of the University of Idaho and discussed some of their challenges which includes the governor’s request to reduce their base budget by 2% in the 2021 fiscal year (FY21). The University of Idaho has reduced their budget voluntarily by 1% for FY20.
- Met with the ACLU to discuss potential problems with certain administrative rules. They reported that 70% of the people who went to prison last year went as a result of a parole violation.
- Visited with a group of citizens from Health Freedom Idaho who are concerned with forced vaccinations, school immunization exemptions and parental rights. They have been trying to get the Health and Welfare Committee Chairmen to allow their concerns to be heard and openly debated.
- Learned additional information on Idaho’s “ObamaCar” bill that passed last year and the associated costs to the state. Idaho DMV now works with private insurance companies to get information on your insurance status. If you don't have it, or a good reason for not having it, they want to punish you by dropping your registration and charging you a new fee to reinstate it. Many citizens have called legislators to voice their anger at this bad legislation passed last year. I voted against it and will work to repeal it. Continue to let your legislators know where you stand on this issue. Your voice can make a difference.
- Met an Idaho Heritage Trust Commissioner and learned about programs and grants they award to historic projects around the state.
- Met with the Lt. Governor to discuss ideas on government efficiency and accountability.
- Met with bill drafters, committee chairmen, legislators, and executive branch staff to discuss upcoming legislation and discuss strategies for passing or denying proposed legislation.
I am working on several bills this session including three bills related to CPS; bills that address aggressive taxing districts that re-run failed bonds and levies just months after the voters say “no;” the above mentioned “Obama-car” repeal bill that currently checks citizens’ private records to determine if they have insurance on vehicles and if not, drops vehicle registrations with a $75 re-issue fee; a discrimination bill; a preemption gun bill; and a human rights bill that will completely end abortions in Idaho (AHRA).
I will keep you posted as these ideas move through the various processes.
Thank you for being engaged and educated. I continue stand and fight for our freedoms, liberties, life and those pursuits so precious to Idahoans. I thank you for your continued support and encouragement.
Together we are making a difference and growing freedom across our state.