Newsletter: March, 14 2014

March 16, 2014

Bill Summary
This week, the Idaho legislature had the feel of the session winding down. The committee work is mostly complete; therefore most committees are shut down for the session. The Senate spent both mornings and the afternoons hearing, debating and voting on bills. Here is a synopsis of some legislation to pass from the Senate and house floors. We are on course for a Friday, March 21, adjournment, Sine Die.

The Senate voted unanimously to send a strong message to President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry through Senate Joint Memorial 106. The memorial implores Obama and Kerry to use every opportunity and resource to end the unjust imprisonment and secure the immediate release of U.S. Citizen and Ada County resident, Pastor Saeed Abedini. His wife, Naghmeh Abedini, was in the gallery for the reading and debate of SJM106. Abedini was visiting his parents in Iran when he was arrested in 2012, imprisoned, and continues to be tortured because of his Christian faith.

The Senate unanimously agreed on S1374 which would allow low risk prison inmates to volunteer to work harvesting fruit and do other agricultural labor if there’s a shortage of workers. The inmates would be paid about $12 an hour which can be used to pay off fines and restitution before they are released. Last season’s pears and apples went unpicked in Sunnyslope orchards because of a labor shortage.

The Senate agreed unanimously on the need to protect student data. S1372 clarifies what constitutes a student record and what information can and cannot be kept as a student record. School districts and individuals who leak student data would be subject to a fine of up to $50,000.

The Senate passed S1408, to double the cap on the Budget Stabilization Fund, the state’s main rainy-day savings account, from 5 percent of the budget to 10 percent. This will allow the state to save more money for the next time the economy crashes.

A change was made to the video voyeurism law in Idaho. H460 makes it illegal to use pictures or videos of an intimate or private nature to be shared without consent for revenge, extortion or humiliation.

The House has passed S1284 which would allow the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) to increase the top speed limit on some rural stretches of interstate to 80 mph, and increase some sections of state highways to 70 mph. Before any speed limits are increased, ITD would be required to do engineering and traffic studies, and the ITD board would have the final approval.

The House voted unanimously in favor of S1332 which would penalize officials who knowingly and willfully order Idaho law enforcement officers to seize guns or ammunition under a federal order or law, if it violates the Idaho Constitution. This bill focuses on supervisors, and would impose a civil penalty on first offense, and misdemeanor penalties for repeat offenses.

The House also passed S1377 which clarifies that the responsibility of adoption of school curriculum lies at the local school district trustee level and NOT at the state level.

S1275 enhances secondary agriculture and natural resource education currently offered in Idaho schools, and will provide start-up capital for districts to create new agriculture education programs.

H395 restores preventative dental care to adults with disabilities or special health needs who are served by Medicaid.

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