Mark Harris

Mark Harris

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The Senate State Affairs Committee convened at the beginning of the week to hear Senate Joint Resolution 101 (SJR 101). SJR 101 is a proposed constitutional amendment to the Idaho Constitution to prohibit the production, transportation, sale, delivery, dispensing, distribution, possession and use of hard drugs like heroin, cocaine, and marijuana for recreational purposes in the State of Idaho. The reason this proposed amendment was drafted was partly due to the words of the Idaho Constitution that states the, “…first concern of all good government is the virtue and sobriety of the people.” We have watched as some of our neighboring States have legalized hard recreational drugs and have seen the problems this has caused them and their citizens.

Backers of SJR 101 have stated that this will help protect and preserve Idaho’s values, families, quality of life, the environment, and promote freedom from addiction. We have seen other states that have legalized these hard drugs experience higher medical costs, environmental damage to their public lands, and in many cases, higher unemployment. For SJR 101 to pass, it must garner a 2/3rds vote from both the Senate and the House. If that happens, it will be on the ballot during the next election cycle. Voters will be able to have the ultimate say to decide if this amendment is written into our Constitution.

Because of the new president and administration in Washington, D.C., and the worry of what effect they will have on the 2nd Amendment, I have received many calls from constituents insisting Idaho be declared a sanctuary state for firearms. After doing some research, I discovered that 2014’s Senate Bill 1332 accomplished that goal. It states that Idaho is already listed as a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary State. I was especially pleased to see that bill had passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously. If you would like more information on this, you can read the bill at: https://legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/2014/legislation/s1332/. You can also go to sanctuary counties at: https://sanctuarycounties.com/.

Both the Senate and the House are continuing to work on legislation that will re-balance the powers of the legislature and the governor. As we work through the process, it has become clear that ending the emergency declaration on COVID-19 will not address the issues that people are concerned about such as crowd limits, isolation orders and restrictions to businesses. These issues fall under the prevue of the State Public Health Orders. As we work on these issues, the Senate is taking great care to address them as to not cause unintended consequences that could cause harm to our citizens and businesses of Idaho.

In the Senate we are also beginning to work on other important topics such as tax relief, transportation and education issues, property taxes, water, and setting the state budgets for the coming year. It will be a busy Legislative Session and there is a lot to do. I look forward to working with the House of Representatives and our governor on these issues.

I appreciate the letters I receive, and I do my best to answer them. If you have comments and/or concerns, please reach out to me at mharris@senate.idaho.gov.

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