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  • Writer's pictureToni Ferro

The 2024 legislative session in a nutshell: a mix of not helpful and harmful - Part 2

In Part 1 I talked about some of the "Not Helpful" bills from the 2024 legislative session. Here I'll talk about some of the harmful bills that were proposed this session.


My list of bills that are harmful includes SB1460, the Health and Welfare budget that excludes the administrative costs for the summer EBT program. This program would have brought $16 million in Federal dollars to Idaho to provide nutrition to 136,000 low-income kids over the summer. This bill replaced SB1445, which included the administrative costs for the program and was voted down in the Senate. The summer EBT program would have been an important part of the effort to end hunger in Idaho.

In some areas it is possible to find summer meals for kids, but as the President of the Idaho Food Bank explains, these organizations can't end hunger alone and Idaho should take every opportunity to make sure Idaho's kids are getting the nutrition they need.

Also on the list is HB545, which restricts local governments from implementing laws that protect renters from predatory landlords. Lots of people are moving to Ada and Canyon counties, which has caused a housing shortage and a spike in home prices and rents. With limited options renters are particularly susceptible to discrimination and predatory landlords charging exorbitant fees. Boise had recently passed some renter protections and this bill eliminated those protections and prevents other municipalities from doing the same.

HB419 was the most recent attempt to repeal the Medicaid expansion. The Medicaid expansion was approved by Idahoans with over 60% of the vote in 2018. Since the passage of the ballot measure in 2018, the legislature has proposed a host of different bills that would effectively repeal the Medicaid expansion. Like previous bills, this one did not go anywhere, but it is a clear message that repealing that Medicaid expansion is a priority for some legislators.

Finally, SB1300 would have repealed Idaho's -already pretty lax - child labor laws. 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. In addition, the history of children in the workforce includes parents and employers taking advantage of these vulnerable workers. This bill did not go anywhere, but it sends a clear message that some legislators feel that eliminating Idaho's child labor laws is a priority. 

I know I have missed many bills here. If you have suggestions and want me to add some, please let me know.

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