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2024 Legislature

As I did in 2022 and 2023 I will be tracking some of the legislative bills as they make their way through the Idaho legislature. The legislature considers 100s of bills each year. I will focus on the bills related to the issues I have heard about when I am out talking to people in Caldwell.

I have knocked on thousands of doors here in Caldwell. The concerns people people talk to me about the most have to do with Idaho's rapid population growth. So I will be focusing on the bills that address problems that are arising due to growth. Other issues that come up a lot include tax fairness and voting rights and so I will include bills about those as well. 

The topics I plan to look at are:

Education

Transportation

Water, power and other infrastructure

Housing costs

Tax Fairness

Voting and initiatives

If you would like me to include another topic or another specific bill, or if you find errors on this page email me at toni@ferroforidaho.org

This page was last updated 4-14-24.

If you are interested in more topics, check out the Idaho Statesman's bill tracker

2024 Bills I Watched
Education
Education

House Bill 447 and House Bill 743 - awarding a $5000 tax rebate or grant to parents to pay for private school or home school 

Basic summary

These bills would provide parents $5000 a year/student for private educational expenses. If the student has special needs, the amount would increase to $7500/year. HB447 is capped at $50 million and HB743 is capped at $60 million and the money would be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Why these bills matter

These bill are similar to the many Education Savings Account/Voucher bills that were proposed and failed last year (SB1038, SB1144, SB1161, SB1076, and HB347). The idea of school vouchers has been around for decades and is highly controversial. These bills would allocate $50 million/$60 million in public funds for private schools, including religious schools, and other educational expenses (including travel costs).

 

Many laws that apply to public schools do not apply to private schools - for example, private schools are not required to hire certified teachers. 

 

In addition, public schools are currently allotted their funding based on attendance and so incentivizing families to remove students from public schools would reduce the budgets for those schools. Idaho's public schools have been underfunded for decades and this bill would be a blow to our already struggling public schools.

Read more about this bill

Idaho School choice tax credit bill narrowly dies in committee - Idaho Press, March 12, 2024
Idaho Republicans propose spending $50 million on ‘tax credit’ for private schools - Idaho Statesman, January 30, 2024

Idaho taxpayers already fund one school system. Now we have to subsidize another? - Idaho Statesman, February 1, 2024

Bill Status

HB447 was voted down in committee.

HB743 died in the House Revenue and Taxation committee.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

None.

House Bill 415 and Senate Bill 1418 - Allowing guns in schools  

Basic summary

HB415 would make it so that any school employee (including volunteers, coaches, and contractors) who has an "enhanced license to carry concealed weapons" could carry a gun at school. The school employee would have to notify the principal, superintendent, and the safety resource officer, but not the school board. 

 

SB1418 solves many of the problems with HB415 and was written with the input of the Idaho School Board Association, the Idaho Education Association, and the Association of School Resource officers. This bill requires school boards to work with local law enforcement agencies to develop policies for allowing guns in schools.  
 

Why this bill matters

HB415 is a controversial bill, because it was not developed with input from school boards, administrations, or teachers. In addition, it would override a school board's local decision-making authority and undermine a school board's ability to keep schools safe and secure.

SB1418 is much less controversial than HB415. This bill would require school boards to allow guns in schools, but at the same time would require school boards to work with local law enforcement and to have clearly defined policies around the possession of guns in schools. 

Read more about these bills

HB 415 misses the mark with its focus on response over prevention - Idaho Education News, 1/29/2024

House Bill 415 is a disaster waiting to happen - Idaho Education News, 1/30/2024

Bill allowing armed teachers, staff in schools clears Idaho House - Idaho Press, 1/31/2024

Statehouse roundup, 3.13.24: Bill to arm teachers falls in Senate committee - Idaho Ed News, 3/13/2024

Bill Status

HB415 passed the House and died in the Senate State Affairs committee.

SB1418 failed in committee.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

HB415

Rep. Allgood - AYE

Rep. Yamamoto - NAY

Sen. Trakel - co-sponsor

SB1418

None.

House Joint Resolution 001 - allowing the state to use tax dollars to fund religious schools

Basic summary

This bill would make it legal to use tax dollars to fund religious schools by repealing the Blaine Amendment, Article 9, Section 5 of Idaho's constitution

This bill is an exact copy of a bill that was proposed last year and died in committee (SJR-102).
 

Why this bill matters

The US Supreme Court recently ruled that if a state makes tax dollars available to private schools, then it is required to make tax dollars available to all private schools regardless of whether or not they are run by a religious organization. Right now, Idaho does not allocate tax dollars to any private schools (religious or otherwise) and so the Supreme Court ruling doesn't affect us. 

This bill would look to change Idaho's constitution so our tax dollars can be allocated to private schools including religious schools. 

An important note

If this bill passes, it will be referred to the voters in 2026 and voters will decide if the Blaine amendment should be repealed from Idaho's constitution.  

The language that would show up on the ballot is also part of this bill. Writing the ballot question in plain language is important to making sure that the will of the people is clear. This bill proposes confusing wording for the ballot question: 

Shall Section 5, Article IX of the Constitution of the State of Idaho prohibiting sectarian appropriations be repealed?

Instead of something clearer like: 

Shall Section 5, Article IX of the Constitution be repealed and state funding of private religious schools be allowed?

Read more about this bill

Republicans propose letting state fund religious schools with Idaho Constitution change  - The Idaho Statesman, January 12, 2024

Nampa Senator looks to repeal Blaine amendment​ - The Idaho Statesman, January 31, 2023

Senate Education Committee votes to introduce bill to repeal Idaho’s Blaine Amendment - The Idaho Capital Sun, January 30, 2023

 

Bill Status

This bill died the House State affairs committee. 

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

None yet.

House Bill 384, Senate Bill 1221, Senate Bill 1289, and House Bill 710 -  making it possible for individuals to sue schools or libraries over the books they offer and regulations for school boards on curating their school libraries

Basic summary

HB384 - This bill would allow parents to sue schools or libraries for $250 plus damages if their minor child was allowed to check out material that was "harmful."
SB1221 - This bill would introduce detailed and exhaustive regulations for school boards on how to manage which books are available in their libraries.

SB1289 - This bill would allow parents to sue schools or libraries for $250 plus damages if a library does not relocate a book to a section unavailable to minors if the book was deemed obscene by a library review committee set up by the school or library board.

HB710 - This bill would allow parents to sue schools or libraries for $250 plus damages if their minor child was allowed to check out material that was "harmful."

Why these bills matter

HB384 and HB710 are controversial because there is no easy way to categorize "harmful" material for kids. These bills would take away the parents' right to determine the material appropriate for their child by making potentially educational material unavailable. Also, these bills would require libraries to increase their budgets to create and enforce adults only sections of their libraries and to pay for lawyers to defend them in these lawsuits.

HB384 and HB710 are similar to 2022s failed HB666 that would have made it illegal for libraries and schools to disseminate "material harmful to minors" and 2023s vetoed HB314 that also allowed for civil action against libraries and schools. 

SB1221 legislates how school boards manage the content of their libraries. This is one of many recent bills that would impose regulations on other locally elected officials. School boards are elected by the people in their school districts and they manage their libraries through locally developed policies. 

SB1289 is a compromise bill by the sponsors of HB384 and SB1221. This bill would require schools boards and library boards to create a materials review committee to advertise and hold public hearings on any materials that a patron deems as obscene. Obscene is defined in Idaho code 18-1514(6). If the review committee makes a decision the patron disagrees with they can ask for a review of the decision and then apply for a judicial review. If the material is deemed obscene and is not moved to make it unavailable to minors then the patron can sue for $250 plus damages.

This bill requires new bureaucracy and could result in costly legal fees for library and school districts. 

  

Read more about these bills

Idaho Republican wants to allow damage claims for ‘harmful’ materials in libraries - Idaho Statesman, January 12, 2024

Hundreds attend hearing for 'harmful materials' in libraries bill, which heads to House for a voteThe Idaho Press, January 15, 2024

Revived ‘harmful to minors’ library materials bill advances in Idaho Legislature  - Idaho Capital Sun, January 15, 2024

Idaho Republicans bring a new bill on ‘harmful’ library material. What to know - Idaho Statesman, February 7, 2024

Idaho Senate rejects bill on ‘harmful’ library material. Is bill ‘worse than this’ next? - Idaho Statesman, February 22, 2024

'In search of a problem’: Republicans butt heads over ‘harmful’ materials bill - Idaho Statesman, March 13, 2024

Idaho libraries bill passes House after tense floor debate - Idaho Capital Sun, March 13, 2024

Bill Status

HB384 passed the House State Affairs committee and was sent to the House. Before it had its third reading in the House, the bill was pulled back to committee due to lack of support. This bill has now been replaced by SB1289.

SB1221 has been sent to the Senate State Affairs committee. This bill has now been replaced by SB1289.

SB1289 has been sent to the Senate State Affairs committee. This bill was voted down in the Senate.

HB710 has passed the House and Senate and been signed by the Governor.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

HB-384 - State Affairs committee, Rep. Allgood - Absent

SB-1289 - Sen. Trakel - NAY

HB710

Rep. Allgood - AYE

Rep. Yamamoto - NAY

Sen. Trakel - AYE

House Bill 422 -  rewriting Idaho's Charter School regulations 

Basic summary

This bill rewrites many sections of Idaho Code 33-52 - Public Charter Schools.

Why this bill matters

The authors explain that since Idaho passed the initial charter school policy in 1998, only small changes have been made to the policy. This bill overhauls the policy to incorporate what has been learned in the last 26 years. In particular, this bill loosens some requirements for high-performing charters and makes it easier for established charters to expand to more locations. 

Detractors are concerned that this bill was too big, included too many changes, and was voted on too quickly for legislators to really understand the changes they were required to vote on. 

  

Read more about this bill

Charter school overhaul clears major hurdle, advances to House - Idaho Ed News, 1-25-2024

Statehouse roundup, 1.23.24: New charter school overhaul bill introduced - Idaho Ed News, 1-23-2024

Bill Status

This bill has been signed by the Governor. 

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

Rep. Allgood - AYE

Rep. Yamamoto - AYE

Sen. Trakel - AYE

House Bill 521 - providing $1.5 billion in new allocations to school districts over 10 years to repair or replace old buildings, lowering income taxes, and removing the August bond/levy election date

Basic summary

This bill addresses Idaho's growing problem of public school buildings in disrepair by providing school districts money for repairs. This bill also lowers the income tax rate and eliminates the August election date.

Why this bill matters

Idaho has a backlog of over $1 billion in school repairs today. This bill attempts to address those issues. The money will be allocated by the number of students in the district, which could mean some smaller districts don't get the money they need.

 

In addition, this bill lowers income taxes (which were recently lowered in 2022, and 2021).

This bill would also remove the August election day for bonds and levies making it more difficult for schools to ask for any additional money they will need for facilities.

Finally, this bill changes the way the Executive Director of the State Board of Education is selected. Instead of the State Board selecting the Executive Director this bill would give the Governor that power. 

This bill is controversial for many reasons. First, because there hasn't been an analysis of what Idaho's school district infrastructure needs are. For example, some districts (like Vallivue) are growing so fast that the money allocated from this bill (estimated at $38 million over 10 years) will not be anywhere near enough to meet their construction needs over that time. Vallivue School District will need to continue to ask voters to approve bonds. Other districts like Caldwell (estimated to receive $20 million over 10 years) is not growing and so this amount may be enough for them to avoid having to propose a bond. Without any sort of analysis it is hard to know if this bill is meeting the needs of the school districts or not.

 

Second, cutting taxes while announcing big spending is always cause for concern. And cutting taxes in times of growth (which call for investments instead of austerity) is likely to result in missed opportunities and budget problems down the road.

 

Third, this bill has a lot in it. Legislation is required to cover a single subject and it is clear this bill affects at least two subjects (school funding and income taxes) if not more (election days, etc.).

Finally, this bill has confused school districts about whether or not they will qualify for funding if they operate on a four-day school week. Since at least 2015 many school districts have been shifting from five-day school weeks to four-day school weeks and this year 50% of Idaho school districts (including charters) run on four-day weeks. Seventy-four of the 116 traditional school districts in Idaho run on four-day school weeks. This bill appears to change the current contact-hour requirement set by the State Board of Education to a required number of operational days set by the State Board of Education. Many districts are waiting to set their schedules for next year until the bill is signed and the Board of Education publicizes the required operational days. 

Note

Several bills have been introduced that would implement changes to this bill. 

  

Read more about this bill

‘Priority No. 1’: Bill would add $1.5 billion to fix, replace crumbling Idaho schools - Idaho Statesman, February 9, 2024

The school facilities bill is the right thing, done in the wrong way - Idaho Ed News, February 26,2024

Needed school facilities funding comes in “counterproductive” bill - Idaho Ed News, February 23, 2024

School facilities bill advances. Here’s what it would do for various districts - Idaho Ed News, March 5, 2024

Idaho school districts drop to four-day weeks despite obscure provision buried in legislation - Idaho Press, March 13, 2024

Bill Status

This bill has passed the House and the Senate and been signed by the Governor.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

Rep. Allgood - AYE, co-sponsor;

Rep. Yamamoto - AYE, co-sponsor

Sen. Trakel - NAY

Senate Bill 1438, Senate Bill 1439, Senate Bill 1440, Senate Bill 1441, House Bill 742, and House Bill 766 changing some provisions of HB521 relating to the maximum and minimum funding allocations, the student-contact days requirement, and the effective date of the bill

 

Basic summary

SB1438 - This bill would change the minimum allocation received by a school district from $25,000 to $100,000 and would change the maximum allocation received by a school district to $100 million. This bill would also delay the new student contact-day requirement to the 2025-2026 school year.  
SB1439 - This bill would eliminate the new student contact-day requirement from HB521.

SB1440 - This bill would change the minimum allocation received by a school district from $25,000 to $100,000 and would change the maximum allocation received by a school district to $100 million.

SB1441 - This bill would delay the implementation of HB521 by one year.

HB742 - This bill would delay the new student contact-day requirement until the 2025-2026 school year. In addition, if money is unused or misused by a school district, that money will go back into this school facilities fund and be distributed to rural schools. 

HB766 - This bill would require State Senate approval of the selection of the Executive Director of the State Board of Education, allow the minimum instructional requirement to be days or hours and delays the implementation of the requirement until the 2025-2026 school year, and updates the way that Charter schools receive funding for infrastructure. This bill does not implement a minimum or maximum allocation for schools, but puts any unused or misused allocations back into the fund for distribution to rural schools.

Why these bills matter

HB521 allocates funds to school districts based on attendance. SB1438 and SB1440 would change the minimum allocation from $25,000 to $100,000, which would affect five of Idaho's 116 traditional school districts. The same bills would add a maximum allocation of $100 million, which would affect only one school district, West Ada. 

HB521 replaces the existing contact-hours requirement for school districts with a contact-day requirement. This could cause problems for the dozens of school districts who are currently on four-day school weeks. SB1438 and SB1439 would help school districts who are scrambling to figure out what their schedules will look like for next year. SB1438 and HB742 would delay the implementation of the new student contact-day requirement by one year and SB1439 would eliminate the new requirement altogether. 

Read more about these bills

Newest trailer bill to school facilities bill introduced, passes House - Idaho Press, April 2, 2024

Senate introduces possible changes to school facilities bill - Idaho Press, March 21, 2024

Bill Status

SB1438, SB1439, SB1440, SB1441, and HB742 died in various states and were replaced by HB766. 

HB766 passed the House and the Senate and has been signed by the Governor.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

SB1440 

Sen. Trakel - AYE

 

HB742

Rep. Allgood - AYE

Rep. Yamamoto - AYE

HB766 

Rep. Allgood - AYE

Rep. Yamamoto - AYE

Sen. Trakel - AYE

Senate Bill 1300 - repealing Idaho's child labor laws

Basic summary

This bill would repeal Idaho's child labor laws and would allow businesses to hire children of any age, have child workers work any number of hours, and have child workers work during school hours.

Why this bill matters

Idaho's unemployment rate remains low. Low unemployment means a tight labor pool, which pushes wages up. This bill would add children to the labor pool, which would increase the labor pool and suppress wages.

This bill in conjunction with our high housing prices (the increase in housing costs has outpaced the increase in wages) and our lenient home-school laws would incentivize some struggling families to pull their kids from school so they can go to work. 

In addition, the history of children in the workforce includes parents and employers taking advantage of these vulnerable workers. 

  

Read More About this Bill

Opinion: Senate Bill 1300 - Idaho State Journal, February 23, 2024

Bill Status

This bill died in the Senate Commerce and Human Resources committee. 

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

None yet.

Senate Joint Resolution 105 - amending the Idaho State Constitution so that parents can homeschool or have their children privately educated without any government oversight, and to clarify that those parents are not entitled to any public funds 

Basic summary

This bill would amend Idaho's State Constitution to include the option for parents to homeschool their children free from government oversight.

 

Note: This bill was amended before it was approved by the Senate State Affairs committee. The amendment changed the bill a lot. The new version of the bill would change the State Constitution to say that parents can homeschool their children OR have their kids be privately educated free from government oversight. And to say that parents homeschooling their children or having their children be privately educated would not be entitled to public funds for education.

Why this bill matters

This bill would amend the State Constitution to include Idaho's current lenient homeschool law. This bill would make it so that if future legislatures wanted to include some homeschool oversight they would first have to change the State Constitution.

Note: After being amended this bill would add into the State Constitution that parents who homeschool their children or send their children to private school would not be entitled to public dollars. This is a big deal, because this Constitutional change would override voucher/ESA bills like HB447.

An important note

Because this bill amends the State Constitution, this bill needs a two-thirds vote in the House and the Senate and then would be referred to voters.  

Bill Status

This bill died in the Senate. 

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

None yet.

House Joint Resolution 002 - lowering the requirement to pass a bond in election years where statewide elections are held  

Basic summary

This bill would amend the State Constitution such that if a bond election is held in a year where there is a statewide election, the requirement to pass the bond would be 55% instead of 66.7% (two-thirds).  

Why this bill matters

Idaho is one of only two states that requires a two-thirds yes vote for bond elections. Bond elections often fail when two-thirds of voters are required to vote yes. For example, the Vallivue School District is growing so fast it recently needed to pass a bond for two new elementary schools. Two proposed bonds failed before a third bond passed. More than 64% of voters voted yes for the new schools when the bonds failed - a solid majority in both elections. 

This bill would change the threshold from two-thirds to 55% only in years that have a statewide election (usually even-numbered years). This would guarantee a higher voter turnout than bonds usually get during years where there is not a statewide election (usually odd-numbered years ). This bill would leave the two-thirds requirement for bond elections in years where there is not a statewide election. 

Changing the threshold for success to 55% would help school districts and would do a better job of following the will of the voters in the district. However, leaving the two-thirds requirement for off years does not solve all of the problems for districts like Vallivue that are growing rapidly. New schools can take a long time to build (Vallivue estimated three years for their new schools). A two-thirds vote in an off year is a steep requirement and it may cost school districts money (as land and materials costs go up) and cause overcrowding as the district waits for a statewide election year to propose their bond. 

Read more about this bill 

Idaho could lower its ‘virtually impossible’ threshold to pass school bondsIdaho Statesman, January 22, 2024

An important note

Because this bill amends the State Constitution, this bill needs a two-thirds vote in the House and the Senate and then would be referred to voters.  

 

Bill Status

This bill died in the House. 

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

None yet.

Senate Bill 1445 - approving funding for summer meals for kids  

Basic summary

This bill would include funding for the Federal Summer EBT program, which provides $40/month/student for food to families of students who qualify.  

Why this bill matters

In 2023 Idaho opted out of the 2023 Federal Summer EBT Program - one of only 8 states to make that decision. The program is funded by Federal funds - Idaho would receive $16 million to fund the program and would pay half of the administration costs or about $0.5 million.

Roughly 136,000 Idaho children would be helped by this program. The program would guarantee summertime nutrition for Idaho's neediest kids. 

Read more about this bill 

Taking food out of constituents’ mouths? Shrug. This is what Idaho lawmakers fear more | Opinion - Idaho Statesman, April 2, 2024

I worked to the bone to get the Legislature to feed Idaho kids. They wouldn’t budge | Opinion - Idaho Statesman, April 9, 2024

 

Bill Status

This bill was voted down in the Senate. 

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

Sen. Trakel - NAY

House Bill 755 - creating an education facilities fund in the State Budget 

Basic summary

This bill would create a fund in the State Treasury to support public school facilities maintenance and construction. 

Why this bill matters

Currently, the only way that school districts can build new schools or upgrade existing schools is to ask voters to approve a bond that 

is paid for by property taxes. This bill would start to shift the responsibility for school facilities from our property taxes to the state fund, which has had record surpluses in recent years.

This bill allocated only $25 million to this fund, which is not nearly enough, but the bill opens the door for a new way to fund public school facilities.

 

Bill Status

This bill was introduced late in the session as a way to open discussion about this idea for the 2025 session. 

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

None.

Transportation
Transportation

House Current Resolution 24 - authorizing a study of Highways 55, 16, and 95

Basic summary

This bill would authorize a study of Highways 55, 16, and 95 and examine potential safe, alternative routes between the Treasure Valley and central Idaho.

Why this bill matters

Idaho is one of the fastest growing states in the nation. As we grow we need to expand our transportation network.

  

Bill Status

This bill died in the House Transportation and Defense committee.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

None yet.

Water, power and other infrastructure
Water and power investments

Senate Bill 1286 - allowing all homeowners to xeriscape to save water

Basic summary

This bill would allow homeowners in subdivisions with an HOA to plant native and drought tolerant plants in their front yards instead of maintaining lawns. 

Why this bill matters

Idaho's population growth is impacting our water supply. Currently, many subdivision HOAs require homeowners to have front yard lawns, which require irrigation. This bill would require that HOAs allow homeowners to xeriscape (landscaping that requires little or no irrigation) their front lawns. This bill would allow HOAs to determine the type of xeriscaping that is acceptable. 

Read more about this bill

‘A property rights issue’: Bill prohibiting HOAs from requiring grass lawns died in committee - Boise Dev, February 23, 2024

Bill Status

This bill was voted down in the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee. 

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

None.

Senate Bill 1370 - requiring that local governments consider the effects on the ground water in the area when adopting a comprehensive plan

Basic summary

This bill would require local governments to consider the effects that comprehensive plans will have on the "source, quantity, and quality" of the groundwater in the area.

Why this bill matters

Idaho's population growth is impacting our water supply. Local governments amending, repealing, or adopting comprehensive plans are required to take many things into account such as transportation, school facilities, and utilities. This bill would specifically add groundwater to the list of things that local governments are required to consider in their comprehensive planning.

Bill Status

This bill died in the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

None yet.

Housing Costs
HousingCosts

House Bill 545 - restricting local governments from implementing laws that protect renters 

Basic summary

This bill would override a recent renter protection bill passed by the Boise City Council that makes it so landlords can't reject a potential tenant because they receive a federal housing voucher. This bill would also undo last year's SB1039, which requires that fees charged to renters be reasonable and would override Boise's renter protection law that limits application fees to $30.

Why this bill matters

Rents in Idaho have gone up rapidly. As a result some municipalities have passed laws to protect renters from excessive fees and discrimination. This bill limits what local governments can do to protect renters.

Bill Status

This bill passed the House and Senate and has been signed by the Governor.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

Rep. Allgood - AYE

Rep. Yamamoto - AYE

Sen. Trakel - AYE

TaxFairness
Tax Fairness

House Bill 582 - adding school districts to the list of public facilities that can collect impact fees from developers

Basic summary

This bill would allow school districts to charge developers impact fees to cover a proportionate share of the improvements that the district will need to serve the new development. Currently, impact fees can be charged to developers to cover water facilities, wastewater facilities, stormwater facilities, roads, parks, public safety facilities (including police, fire, EMS, and lights). 

Why this bill matters

Right now school districts are required to pass a bond with a two-thirds vote to build new schools. Many of these bonds have failed around the state, which is causing school overcrowding in fast-growing districts like Vallivue. It is reasonable that people who already live in the school district don't want to pay higher property taxes so they can build new schools that will serve new developments. Many other public facilities are currently able to charge impact fees and this bill would simply add school facilities to the list. 

This bill is reasonable and puts the costs of new and expanded schools on new development. However, this bill may be controversial, because the cost of housing in Idaho is already high. Developers will argue that increasing the cost of building new developments may slow development and/or impact already high housing costs. 

Bill Status

This bill was never referred to committee.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

None yet.

Voting
Voting and Initiatives

House Bill 573 and House Bill 667 - limiting who is allowed to vote by mail and making vote-by-mail forms harder to get

 

Basic summary

These bills would limit who is allowed to vote by mail to only people who will be out of town or people who have an illness or disability that would prevent the voter from voting in person. In addition this bill requires that each voter request the application to vote by mail directly from their county elections office (instead of being able to download the form online or have a candidate or volunteer bring it to them). These bills are similar to last year's HB205, which failed in the House and to last year's HB259, which passed the House and died in the Senate.

Why these bills matters

These bills makes it harder for people to vote. We already have very low voter turnout here in Canyon County and further restrictions are likely to make things worse. Canyon County had the second lowest voter turn out in the state in 2022 and Caldwell's District 11 had the lowest turnout of any legislative district in the state. In addition, the lines for voting in Canyon County are long and restricting vote-by-mail will make them longer.

Bill Status

These bills both died in the House State Affairs committee.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

None yet.

House Bill 419 - repealing 2018s voter-approved Medicaid Expansion unless unattainable conditions are met

Basic summary

This bill would repeal the Medicaid Expansion that Idaho voters approved in 2018 unless some conditions are met. Some of the proposed conditions are not feasible and others would create new, expensive bureaucracy. Detractors from the Medicaid expansion have been trying to repeal it for years. Last year it was HB123, which died in the House Health and Welfare committee.

Why this bill matters

The Medicaid Expansion bill that was approved by voters in 2018 currently covers over 100,000 Idahoans. The initiative expanded Medicaid to cover people who are above the federal poverty level, don't qualify for another type of coverage, yet make too little to afford the high cost of health coverage. The initiative takes advantage of a federal program that pays 90% of the cost for states who expand Medicaid to these folks. 

The Medicaid expansion was approved by voters, covers over 100,000 Idahoans, is mostly covered by the Federal Government (brings our tax dollars back to Idaho), and saves the state money in health care costs incurred by people who can't afford their health care. 

This bill would repeal the Medicaid expansion unless specific conditions are met. However, the conditions are impossible to meet. For example, the bill would cap the number of Medicaid expansion enrollments at 50,000 (removing 10s of thousands of Idahoans from Medicaid) and would cap the program at 36 months. The introduction of these conditions would no longer qualify Idaho for the federal program that pays 90% of the costs of the expansion. This bill also requires that the Federal Government pay for 90% of the program. These conditions conflict with each other and guarantee that if this bill were passed the voter-approved Medicaid Expansion would be repealed.

Read more about this bill

Bills printed by Idaho legislative committee to limit Medicaid expansion, expand physician training - Idaho Capitol Sun, January 22, 2024

Bill that could've repealed Idaho Medicaid expansion dies in committee - Idaho Press, February 1, 2024

Bill Status

This bill has been held in committee.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

None yet.

Senate Bill 1273 - creating a voter guide that includes candidates   

Basic summary

This bill would include federal, state, and county candidates in the voter's pamphlet that is sent to Idaho voters. Voter's pamphlets currently only include ballot initiatives, referendums, and constitutional amendments. This bill is similar to last year's SB 1078, which passed the Senate, but died in committee in the House.

Why this bill matters

I frequently hear from people that they wish there was a voter's guide in Idaho. This bill would give voters more information about what they can expect to see on their ballot and give them time to make decisions before going to the polls. This pamphlet would not include local candidates (city council, school board, etc.) and would not include local levies or bonds. Therefore, not everything on every ballot would be included in a voter guide.

Read More about this bill

Idaho Senate passes bill to create statewide voter guide - Idaho Press, February 26, 2024

Idaho election bills move forward in Senate Committee - Idaho PressFebruary 2, 2024

Bill Status

This bill passed the Senate and died in the House State Affairs committee.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

Sen. Trakel - NAY

House Joint Resolution 3, House Joint Resolution 4 - requiring one round of voting during elections

Basic summary

These bills would add a question to the 2024 ballot about whether Idahoans would like to require only one round of voting during any election. 

Why these bills matters

These bills are in response to the potential Open Primaries ballot initiative that is in the process of being qualified by a coalition of organizations in Idaho. This initiative would allow voters to rank their choices for an office during the general election - voters would pick who they like best, but then also who their second, third, and fourth choices would be if no candidate gets 50% of the vote. The Open Primaries initiative would ensure that the candidates who get elected are candidates that a majority of voters prefer.

These bills would create a competing ballot question and proposes that the person with the most votes should win whether or not that person has the support of a majority of voters.

HJR004 replaces HJR003 and clarifies that only partisan elections would be affected by this change.

Read more about these bills

Republican Idaho legislator proposes constitutional amendment to block ranked choice voting - Idaho Capital Sun, February 23, 2024

Bill Status

HJR003 has been replaced by HJR004. 

HJR004 failed in the House.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

Rep. Allgood - AYE

Rep. Yamamoto - NAY

House Bill 652, Senate Bill 1376, and Senate Bill 1377 making it harder to get ballot initiatives onto the ballot and making it more difficult to pass ballot initiatives

Basic summary

HB652 would require ballot initiative petitions to be turned in every month instead of just once. In addition the deadline for signature gathering would go from April 30th to March 31st. And, after deadline to collect more signatures, there would be a two-month window where signers could ask to have their names removed from the petition.

SB1376 would allow legislators to use public funds to advocate against ballot initiatives.

SB1377 would require paid initiative petition signature gatherers to verbally tell signers they are being paid, to wear a button saying they are a paid signature gatherer, and to have different petitions than volunteer signature gatherers that identify the signature gatherer is being paid. In addition, the paid signature gatherer would need to identify the organization paying them on the petition before it is filed.

Why this bill matters

These bills follow in a long line of bills that are aimed at making it harder to qualify initiatives for the ballot. Previous bills include 2023s SJR-101; 2021s SB-1110; 2020s HB-548 and SB-1350; and 2019s SB-1159, HB-296, HB-303, HB-304, HB-305, and HB306. In Idaho it is already difficult to qualify an initiative for the ballot and these bills would make it even harder.  HB652 in particular introduces a two-month window that would give people opposed to the initiative an opportunity to reach out to people who have signed the petition and persuade them to have their name removed. 

The State Constitution guarantees the people the right to propose laws and have them be voted on independent of the legislature. These bills are further attempts to infringe on this constitutional right. 

Read More about these bills

Idaho House introduces new initiative restrictions bill - Boise State Public Radio News, February 26, 2024

Bill adding additional requirements to ballot initiative process heads to Idaho House floorIdaho Capital Sun, March 5, 2024

Here we go again. Idaho lawmakers want to make it harder for citizen initiatives | Opinion - Idaho Statesman, March 8, 2024

Unveiling HB652: A sneak peek at the secret weapon built to attack Idaho’s democracy | Opinion - Idaho Statesman, March 10, 2024

Bill Status

HB652 has passed the House and died in the Senate State Affairs committee.

SB1376 passed the Senate and the House and has been signed by the Governor.

SB1377 passed the Senate and the House and has been signed by the Governor. 

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

HB652

Rep. Allgood - AYE

Rep. Yamamoto - NAY

SB1376

Sen. Trakel - AYE

Rep. Allgood - AYE

Rep. Yamamoto - AYE

SB1377

Sen. Trakel - AYE

Rep. Allgood - AYE

Rep. Yamamoto - AYE

Senate Bill 1251 - Requiring Federal Political Action Committees (PACs) to follow Idaho's campaign finance reporting laws  

Basic summary

This bill would require Federally registered PACs to file financial reports with the State in the same way that State PACs and candidates do.

Why this bill matters

Currently, Federal PACs are exempt from reporting their spending on local elections with the State, making it difficult to get the full picture of how much is being spent on our elections and who is spending money on our elections. This bill would fix this problem by requiring Federal PACs to file the same reports that in-state PACs and candidates are required to file.

Read More about this bill

Bill introduced to require federal PACs to report to Idaho elections office - Idaho Press, January 26, 2024

Bill Status

This bill passed the Senate and the House and has been signed by the Governor.

District 11 (Caldwell) legislator votes

Sen. Trakel - AYE

Rep. Allgood - AYE

Rep. Yamamoto - AYE 

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