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This is the second week in the legislative session. Things are starting to pickup here in Boise. The Resources and Conversation Committee held its first meeting on Tuesday, Jan.19th. Things are a little bit different this year with our Committee rooms being setup for social distancing. Gone are the times that you could visit with your neighbor and share information. This has made chairing a committee more difficult because we are no longer all around the rostrum and at the same level. This new arrangement will take some getting use to. The capacity of the committee rooms has been greatly reduced as a result. On the plus side, this year all the committee rooms have audio and video streaming ability so citizens may watch from home.

We introduced two Fish and Game bills. The first bill established a tag system for Sage Grouse hunting. This will help the Department spread hunters about the landscape and prevent over harvest in small areas. This bill is supposed to be revenue neutral and only be a management tool for the department. The second bill addressed the issue of baiting for fur bearing animals. This is intended to bring the regulation for fur bearing animals in line with the rules for trapping of wolves.

Wednesday was a slow day around the Capitol. There were threats of protests at all the State Capitols. I am happy to report that there were no protesters in Boise. There were a couple of people walking in front of the Capitol with signs, but they were very quiet and well behaved. That reminds me of one big difference around the Capitol this year, we have a much larger security present. Our security forces are not going to allow the Idaho State Capitol to be over run!

Wednesday, I took the opportunity to return to Grace to watch Malad and Grace boys play a basketball game. I am happy to report that Grace won by 6 points. Bonne and I were able to attend the game. Grey’s parents were out of town on business so this was the first game we could attend and still remain within the two guests per player limit. I am hopeful that the Governor and Board of Education can soon increase the attendance at school events. This proud grandpa would like to attend more games, but I realize that as restricted as things are, we are much better off than some other states. Our kids are in school and playing sports! The trip to Boise sure seems farther than the trip home.

Thursday our committee introduced three bills all reducing unnecessary old regulations. In the floor session, we had debate on HJR 1, the resolution calling for a Constitutional amendment to allow the Legislature to call themselves back into session. The bill passed 51-18-1. The bill needed 47 votes to pass. I voted NO. This bill required 60% of the Legislators of both the House and Senate to sign a petition for us to convene a session within 15 days of the required signature being gathered. I support the concept of being able to call us back into session, but I believe that the threshold should be 67%. If we call ourselves back into session, the Governor will most likely veto what we pass in both Houses. We would need 67% or 47 votes to override a Governor’s veto so if we were back in session and can’t override a veto why should we be in session? The bill now goes to the Senate. I tend to believe that they may draw up a new bill requiring 67% needed votes in order for us to call ourselves back into session.

There is a lot of interest in passing legislation that ends the Governor’s Emergency Declaration. It appears unlikely that we will do that. The State needs an emergency declaration in order to qualify for the government assistance we have been receiving.

I don’t want to leave you with the impression that we won’t do anything to limit the restrictions we are currently experiencing. Leadership in both Houses are working on a path forward to resolve this issue. I’m sure that we will be talking more about this in the weeks ahead.

I am honored to be able to represent Dist. 32 and thank you for your support. I may be reached at 208-547-7447 or by email at mgibbs@house.idaho.gov.

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