This week was full of discussion and testimony regarding two important legal issues: justice reinvestment and gun laws.
On Wednesday the Senate State Affairs Committee listened to the presentation of S1254 by lobbyist Dakota Moore of the National Rifle Association. This bill would allow for carrying of concealed weapons on public college campuses for ex-law enforcement officers and individuals over 21 who have been specially trained. College presidents are against the bill, but many professors favor the bill. After much debate, the bill was passed in committee 7-2. I am a co-sponsor of this bill.
The Senate State Affairs Committee passed S1332 on Friday which protects Idaho law enforcement officers from enforcing federal government gun regulations on Idaho citizens. Another bill S1349 protects Idaho citizens from the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) which allows trial without jury during times of emergency or war. These 2 bills were resurrected from last year. I am in full support of these bills to protect Idaho citizens from the federal government.
The Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Justice Reinvestment Act, S1331, in the Lincoln Auditorium on Wednesday. Some people do not see this piece of legislation as being ready yet, but others contend that it is a step in the right direction towards some much needed reform in the prison system, especially the pardon and parole system. Idaho Freedom Foundation finds the overall approach of this bill as good, but urges caution with definition of violent and non-violent crimes.
The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee set the projected revenue in Idaho this year at $2.987 billion, which is the governor’s recommendation. This projection is a 6% increase from last year’s revenue. I voted for a lower projection of $2.93 billion. The finance committee also favors a 2% increase for state workers, with 1% permanent and 1% a one-time bonus. On Friday, the committee held a public hearing on the 2015 budget.
The full Senate will take up a bill that would allow the speed limit to be raised up to 80 mph on some stretches of rural interstate. It would also allow ITD to raise the speed from 65 to 70 mph on sections of state highways.
Senators are finding support for a bill that would remove sales tax on food purchases. The bill would eliminate sales tax on groceries, helping Idahoans balance their household budgets. The bill, if passed, would go into effect in June 2016.
The religious freedom bills, H427 and H426, are being held in limbo as the house has refused to vote on them. These bills protect business owners and private citizens from being forced to hire against their religious beliefs. Please contact legislators and ask them to bring it out of the amending order. This is happening because they do not want a vote in an election year on something so controversial.
In Health and Welfare, Representative John Rusche brought up S 1329. This bill would set up a board for coordinating trauma, stroke and heart attack victims. The concept is great, but I oppose the bill because it is a big expansion of government, creating new governmental boards.