RON NATE: The 2018 Idaho Legislative Session Wraps Up


The legislative session has officially concluded for 2018. This year there were 1,600 pieces of drafted legislation, 950 bills introduced in committee, and 607 total bills printed and considered. That’s a lot of legislating going on.

If you’re like me, you’re probably a bit nervous about seeing so many new bills and new laws. I am opposed to growing the size of government. However, many of the successful bills for 2018 will reduce your taxes, shrink the size of government, increase transparency, and increase freedom. These laws fit with my goals. I kept my promise support legislation only when it is Constitutional, fiscally responsible, and morally sound.

Together with my conservative colleagues, we advocated for alternative health care reform ideas, bigger tax cut proposals, better victims protections, and a stronger stand your ground law. We had a very successful session! (Read more below.)

All final bills were delivered to the Governor’s desk on Thursday, March 22nd, but the legislature decided to wait on adjournment for the full 5 days afforded it for the opportunity to override any veto by the Governor. (If the legislature is in session, the Governor has 5 days to veto a bill; once adjourned, the Governor has 10 days, but there is no opportunity to override a veto once the legislature adjourns.) The House and Senate wanted to ensure last year’s fiasco on the 11-day veto of the grocery tax repeal would not occur again.

This year, the governor ended up vetoing two bills: H501 would drop the Idaho Reading Indicator as a measure for teacher success, and H566 would reduce the required qualifications for Charter School administrators. The House of Representatives failed to override either veto. It was surprising to see how many legislators, after initially supporting a bill, would change their votes when it came time to go against the governor. The legislature officially adjourned for the year on Wednesday, March 28th.

Legislation from District 34 Citizens

I had the pleasure of working with several citizens in District 34 (Madison County and part of Bonneville County) on legislation to increase freedom and protect property rights in Idaho.

This session I successfully carried legislation to clear up the short-term vacation rental market freedoms (H452), to provide financial disclosure on bond ballot measures (H626), to provide exemptions from minimum wages for kids in their family’s business (H466), and to encourage gun safety classes in schools (H443). I was also involved in advancing successful legislation on providing information to women about Abortion Pill Reversals (S1243), additional tax cuts (H675), ending the prohibition on discount sales (H405), and I worked with Senator Hill on his bill regarding booting as a parking enforcement tool (S1284).

How the 2018 Session Turned Out

Our conservative/liberty legislators dealt with a wide range of topics during the 2018 session. With our persistence, demands to adhere to the Constitution, and support from our ever-growing statewide citizen network, we had an impact on state government. Committee chairmen and House leadership finally listened to the voice of the citizens who demanded they hear our proposed conservative/liberty legislation.

We won some legislative battles and lost others, but I can confidently say we saw the beginning of real and positive changes in our legislature. For the first time in years, the majority of our bill ideas were heard, debated, voted on in the committees, and several were signed into law. While never perfect and always dynamic, the process in the House appears to be moving in a direction favorable to proposed citizen legislation, which is what a representative republic should be doing.

All is not perfect, however. Several liberty ideas originating from engaged citizens passed the House floor and made it to the Senate where, unfortunately, committee chairmen still adhering to “lock-it-in-a-drawer” politics let them die. More pressure by citizens is needed to eliminate this old-style way to control policy and maintain cronyism.

On the other hand, promoting individual liberty and freedom often requires us to play defense on bad legislation too. Our conservative/liberty legislators stopped several big-government bills and rejected some of the proposed overreaching administrative rule changes. Good government often comes from voting “No.” We held the line.

Here is a summary of some of the good and bad bills and their outcomes:

Medicaid Expansion (Governor’s Bill H464)

While this bill was touted as “helping the people in the gap,” in reality it was more like a “bailout for big insurance companies.” The law would have forced some high medical cost patients off their private insurance and onto Medicaid. Then, the bill would have taxpayers pick up the tab for these folks to the tune of $100 million annually.

The Governor wanted this bill and was even seen in capitol halls being asked by the Health and Welfare Chairman if he had the votes yet to pass it. It was sent to the House Floor and then returned to committee because they didn’t think they had the votes to pass it. Many speculated if the chairman was waiting for the candidate-filing deadline on March 9th to see who didn’t have an opponent and may be likely “influenced” into a “Yes” vote. Voting on a bill puts legislators on the record, and all too often the establishment works to protect certain legislators from revealing their stance. While we may never know for sure if this was the case, the bill was returned to the House floor on the last full week of the session, and returned to Committee a final time. The bill FAILED, sparing taxpayers a real and potentially expanding financial burden.

Dropout College Scholarship Plan for Adults (S1279)

This bill takes money from high school student scholarships and sets it aside for adults who decided to leave college before graduating. I believe citizens should be in charge of where they spend their money, and not be forced government redistribution scheme like this one. This bill squeaked through the House (37-32-1), and made its way into law.

Marsy’s Law (HJR8)

Idaho was inundated with lobbyists paid for by a California billionaire who was proposing a change to Idaho’s Constitution concerning victims’ rights. He used bully tactics and paid for internet ads of beat-up women, with a smiling legislator’s face looking up to them. He has pumped millions of dollars into other states across the country (sometimes over $10 million) to change their state Constitutions.

Although he claimed to want to help victims, research showed that he also has a Victim Protection Nonprofit which may have directly benefited from this law, setting up a clear case of crony capitalism. Some legislators voted for it, even though they didn’t agree, out of fear of the messaging to the public in an election year. The bill received a majority of the votes but needed a super-majority because it was a Constitutional change, so it ultimately failed. Liberty legislators offered an alternative which strengthened protections, but did not harm the Constitution. Sadly, the bill did not get a hearing.

Tax Relief – Finally (H463)

With $400 million in excess tax collections, the Idaho legislature owed it to families to reduce taxes. Citizens finally got a modest tax cut under the Governor’s plan, although liberty legislators wanted a bigger cut, including a grocery tax repeal.

Despite the Governor’s weaker tax plan winning the day, liberty legislators won a victory as well. Leadership copied our tax cut trailer bill to increase the child tax credit and provide more tax relief than originally planned (H675). Here is a tax summary:

  • Liberty legislators: $165 million proposed relief.
  • Governor-Establishment: $90 million proposed relief.
  • Final outcome: $129.5 million relief.

We had an impact. Conservative/liberty legislators are hopeful for an even brighter future for Idaho families next year when we can address a repeal of the tax on groceries.

2nd Amendment – Three Bills Passed

House Bill 443 (Rep. Ron Nate, R-34) authorizes and encourages public schools to adopt and offer an elective course in gun safety training and authorized instructors who will teach the courses.

House Bill 565 (Rep. Heather Scott, R-1) allows retired law enforcement officers who have the 218 Concealed Carry cards to carry in K-12 schools, college dorms & residence halls, and event halls holding over 1,000 people.

House Bill 444 “Stand Your Ground – Castle Doctrine” (Rep. Christy Zito, R-22) laid the foundation for Senate Bill 1313, a similar, but not as strong approach to the Stand Your Ground proposal. This bill codifies case law. Criminals should take note of how Idaho citizens will not be victims, and Idaho citizens will now be assured the law will be on their side when they need to use deadly force to protect their families and homes.

Pro-Life Good News We made progress in the pro-life battle by passing two important bills becoming law on July 1st of this year. The Abortions Complications Reporting Act (H638) requires every hospital, licensed health care facility, or individual medical practitioner to report to the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare on any health complications to women arising from the performance of abortions (the bill also provides for protecting women’s information and privacy in such matters).

Senate Bill 1243 requires the Department of Health &Welfare to inform women of the availability of an Abortion Pill Reversal (APR) procedure in case they change their mind within 48 hours after deciding to take their baby’s life by an RU-486 abortion pill. Hundreds of babies’ lives have already been saved by the APR procedure; it is a blessing for women and their babies to provide this information to women in Idaho.

Liberty Briefing

Overall, Conservative/Liberty legislators in the House supported and passed multiple bills that reduced the size and scope of government, protected individual rights, and supported veterans.

Here are a few items of interest:

  • Bills to reduce regulations for electricians, plumbers, HVAC techs, engineers, and surveyors, and reduced requirements for charter school administrators.
  • A bill to protect citizens from unwarranted civil asset forfeitures (H447).
  • Private property rights were strengthened with a trespass law to clarify postings and discourage criminal trespass, while ensuring sportsmen and recreationalist access to public lands (H658).
  • A bill to allow a motorist to humanely dispatch a badly injured animal to put it out of its misery.
  • A bill to allow breastfeeding mothers to feed their kids without fear of getting a ticket for indecency.
  • A bill to reduce regulations for short-term home rentals,
  • A bill to require the executive branch to follow open meeting laws, which they are currently exempt from!
  • Rejected a rule change proposed by – the State Department of Corrections to remove “God” out of the Police Officers Standards and Training Oath.

It is still very frustrating to see Senate chairmen lock many good conservative/liberty bills in their desk drawers. A single chairman should not be allowed to effectively veto or hold a bill simply because they themselves do not like it or they are being directed from someone in the executive branch to not hear the topic.

Citizens need to speak up and encourage all House and Senate committee chairmen to stop suppressing the voice of the citizens and let the people’s voices and ideas be heard. Here are just a few of the bills held in the Senate this year:

H577 – CBD oil availability – Passed the House (70-0), but was held in a Senate committee chairman’s drawer.

H419 – American Laws for American Courts – Passed the House (44-24-2), but was held in a Senate committee chairman’s drawer.

H473 – Restoring Constitutional Governance in Idaho – Passed the House (63-4-3), but was held in a Senate committee chairman’s drawer.

H639 – Taxing Districts / Bond Election Limitations – Passed the House (37-32-1), but was held in a Senate committee chairman’s drawer.

H622 – Free Speech on Campus – Passed the House (66-1-3), but was held in a Senate committee chairman’s drawer.

Finally, the Senate did hold a hearing, but nonetheless killed one of our great freedom bills, H449, an income tax exemption on precious metals (bullion) capital gains and losses.

There is still work to do to improve the legislative process in the Senate. We need legislators and committee chairmen who will work for the people, not for the Executive Branch or lobbyists. A single chairman should not have the power to make an executive decision to lock a bill in a drawer; and committees should be allowed to do the work the voters elected them to do. We made these important changes in the House and it’s working better; so now we need to do the same in the Senate! Credit to Speaker Bedke for Improved Legislature Speaker of the House, Rep. Scott Bedke, deserves credit for the positive changes he made in House committee procedures in 2018. He ran a fair and efficient House session, and I commend him for it. There was very little micromanaging of the committee chairmen, and bills were discussed and debated on their merits.

It was exciting and invigorating to watch the process work the way many believe it was intended to work. It made for a much smoother session and citizens’ voices were heard. Most legislators were allowed to do the job they were elected to do and present legislation on ideas from their district. Leadership appeared less interested in the executive branch’s pet projects and more interested in listening to citizen and legislator voices.

In the final week of the session, leadership came to the legislators to decide if we would stay the extra days to be able to override any possible Governor’s vetoes, or go home early. Legislators were back in control of the House, and they worked hard to make sure they did things right. I commend the Speaker for this and hope future sessions follow suit.

Give Liberty a Boost!

Conservative arguments for less spending, smaller government, more freedom, and increased transparency often lose in the House by about a 10 to 15 vote margin. We are just a handful of votes away from reclaiming conservative/liberty values in Idaho. During the 2016 election only 14% of voting age Idahoans turned out to vote. Please be sure to vote on May 15th, your vote is worth more now than ever!

Growing Freedom – Get Involved!

Please visit the Growing Freedom Idaho website to help all citizens be more involved with what is going on in the Idaho Legislature and how to effectively make their voices heard. The site includes a Freedom Agenda of legislation brought to the legislature by citizens and is what liberty-minded legislators are pursuing this session.

www.GrowingFreedomIdaho.com

Stay in Touch!

As always my goals are to best represent District 34’s views and interests, keep my oath to protect and defend the U.S. and State Constitutions, restrain government influence, keep taxes low, and support legislation that is constitutional, economical, and moral. I always appreciate feedback from voters and citizens. As you probably know, citizen input is very important and influential. When you and others contact legislators, they have the power and incentives to protect rights and keep their oaths. Together, we can keep Idaho great and free.

You and your friends can contact your legislators to make your views known by emailing or calling them. To find your representatives’ and senators’ contact information you can click here for senators. Please email me your questions and comments: nater@house.idaho.gov


Rep. Ronald Nate

District 34 – nater@house.idaho.gov

Committees:

  •  Revenue and Taxation
  •  Judiciary, Rules, and Administration
  •  Environment, Energy, and Technology

State Capitol | P.O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0081 | (208) 403-3609

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