A batch of new state laws go into effect today.
The laws, passed during the legislative session earlier this year, include allowing guns on public college campuses, creating a new fund to kill wolves, lowering the big-game hunting age and allowing schools to use emergency allergy medication.
Some laws passed during this legislative session already are in effect, including one punishing those who secretly film agricultural operations. Known as the “ag-gag” law, lawmakers allowed the legislation to kick in immediately after receiving the governor’s signature.
So did a law creating an independent committee to investigate the state’s public defender system, and to make recommendations to the Legislature regarding potential reforms. The commission was funded to the tune of $300,000.
Same-sex couples who have been legally married in other states will not be able to jointly file their Idaho income taxes. A law passed this year, and retroactively effective since Jan. 1, states that only marriages in line with the state constitution, which bans same-sex marriage, are marriages for tax purposes.
A federal court has ruled Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. The state is appealing the ruling.
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed more than 350 bills this year and lawmakers amended nearly 500 sections of code.
Here’s a roundup of some of key pieces of legislation:
• Wolves: This new law calls for a five-member oversight board that would manage an annual budget of $400,000 to kill wolves that prey on livestock. The members would be made up of directors from the state Department of Fish and Game and Department of Agriculture, as well as representatives from the livestock industry, public at large and sportsmen.
• Guns on campus: Despite opposition from every public university college president, lawmakers passed legislation allowing concealed weapons on college and university campuses. The law prohibits gun holders, however, from bringing their weapons into dormitories or buildings that hold more than 1,000 people, such as stadiums or concert halls. College officials have spent the past weeks enhancing new security measures which have been estimated to cost more than $6.2 million.
• Payday loans: Starting today, payday loan borrowers will have the option of dividing the loan into four payments instead of paying it back all at once. The law also bars lenders from tacking on additional interest fees once the extended payment plan started.
• Wastewater permits: This law will allow the state to issue wastewater-quality permits instead of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The shift costs $300,000, and rises to $2.5 million per year by 2022. However, proponents of the law said that the change was needed because EPA’s regulations were too limiting and inflexible for Idaho.
• Increased speed limits, maybe: Speed limits on rural Idaho freeways were supposed to increase from 75 mph to 80 mph starting today. However, state transportation officials announced Friday they want more time to study safety concerns that were raised ever since the department began announced the change was coming this summer. The agency said it wanted to wait until they presented speed and crash analysis to the Idaho Transportation Board on July 11.
• Reduced dairy penalties: Dairies who discharge waste without authorization previously faced the prospect of having their license to sell milk revoked, but a law passed this year means they will instead face a $10,000 fine for each incident.
• Revenge porn: The Legislature amended the state’s voyeurism law to make it a crime to publish nude images or videos that were expected to be kept private. Idaho was one of several states to pass similar laws this year.
• Prisoners on the farm: The state can now enter into contracts with private companies to provide prison labor for food production, harvesting and processing.
• School EpiPens: Schools are now permitted, if they choose, to keep a stock of epinephrine injectors on hand. The injectors can be used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions. The bill protects school officials who decide to administer the drug in good faith from being held liable.
• Hunting age lowered: Ten-year-olds can now hunt big game with a licensed adult. The previous minimum hunting age for big game was 12.