Senator Mark Harris

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Last Friday Governor Little vetoed Senate Bill 1136 (S1136). As you may remember, S 1136 addressed changes in the Extreme Emergency Powers held by the Governor. This legislation declared that every Idahoan that works and pays taxes is essential. It protected the rights of citizens to peacefully assemble and to worship during times of extreme emergencies. It reaffirmed the Governor’s authority over the National Guard but limited his authority to extend the emergency without input from the Legislature. The Senate failed to override the veto by one vote. Though disappointing, this is part of how government works. The Governor is elected by the voters across the state and vetoing bills he does not like or sees a problem with is part of his charge. The Senate will regroup and perhaps a better bill will be the product of this process.

The Senate continues to finish our business as we wait for appropriation bills to pass the House. We are currently still waiting for the K-12 budget, the Higher Education Budget and some Medicaid budgets to pass the House. They will then be transmitted to the Senate so we can hear and vote on them. There is concern among some House members that our schools are teaching social Justice issues. I have not found anywhere where this is the case in our legislative district. However, to address the concerns as of Thursday, April 22, the house passed some legislation out of the House Education Committee and sent it to their floor to be voted on. Perhaps this new legislation will alleviate some of the issues holding up the budgets and our schools will be able to set contracts and plan for the coming year.

This week, the Senate heard and debated Senate Bill 1205 (S1205). This bill was written in response to an executive order by President Biden imposing national restrictions dealing with firearms. S 1205 is called the Idaho Firearm and Firearm Accessories and Components Protection Act. The bill prevents any allocation of funds, personnel, or resources by an Idaho government agency to support any unconstitutional actions by the federal government when it comes to banning guns, gun accessories or components. S 1205 had input from several organizations and attorneys including the Idaho Attorney General’s office. It is a good bill as it is clear, easy to understand and the definitions are accurate. It also builds on what we already have in Idaho Code and does not put our previous protections in jeopardy.

Senate and House members are still working diligently to put together a good tax bill that will involve income and property tax relief. It seems the tax bill from the House, that is currently on the Senate Amending Order, is getting a lot of second thoughts. The Transportation funding bill is also being questioned as different and conflicting numbers come in. Again, it is difficult to know what we can afford when all our budgets have not yet passed.

This session is continuing on but with some of the recent legislative actions in the House, I am hopeful we can finish up soon.

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