BOISE — Amid disagreement between House sponsors on an amended bill that would have allowed for interstate transport of hemp through Idaho, the House voted unanimously to not agree with the Senate’s amendments, killing the bill for the session.
The vote comes after the House Transportation and Defense Committee agreed Thursday morning to recommend that the House not concur. During the committee meeting, both sponsors of the bill expressed starkly different views on the what the Senate’s changes would do.
HB 300aaS would have allowed the director of the Idaho Department of Agriculture to issue permits for interstate hemp transportation for out-of-state truckers. With the bill, law enforcement would have inspected the trucks at check stations around the state, at ports of entry or designated stations.
The Senate’s changes included revisions to the bill’s fiscal note to provide $100,000 for the state Department of Agriculture to coordinate planning efforts with stakeholders to develop a USDA-compliant plan, with a goal of having that for the 2020 spring growing season.
Once a state USDA-compliant state plan had been created to allow for the research and production of industrial hemp “to the greatest extent allowed under federal law,” the Legislature would have then determined if that plan is workable. If approved — and if hemp is removed from Idaho’s Schedule 1 substance list — farmers would be allowed to grow hemp.
Without concurrence to those changes, Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, who strongly opposed the Senate’s changes, said hemp could still be legalized next year, so long as the state accepts the federal government’s plan for regulating hemp by next session, which she advocated for. However, the Idaho State Board of Pharmacy must also comply by removing hemp from Idaho’s Schedule 1 controlled substance list.
Boyle, chairwoman of the House Agricultural Affairs Committee, said the federal plan for regulating hemp is expected to be complete this fall. She said creating a state plan would be costly and time consuming.
“If we act early in January and accept the USDA plan, then Idaho farmers would be able to grow under that plan,” Boyle said. “After reading the Farm Bill, that is the easiest, cleanest and least expensive for Idaho to do.”
She also worried that the Senate’s changes mixed provisions regarding agriculture and the Idaho State Police.
“I don’t believe an ag commodity should ever be in the Idaho State Police statute,” Boyle said. “I don’t believe our farmers can wait until everyone comes to agreement on a state plan.”
Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee, disagreed with Boyle’s remarks, stating a state plan is more Idaho-specific.
“I think it’s very unusual for Idaho to submit to a federal direction if we normally set our own plans,” Nilsson Troy said. “This is an unusual move and very disappointing ... I am a farmer ... This impacts my livelihood. I truly believe that the USDA is not coming in if we don’t submit our own plan and I also truly believe that our governor wants a state plan, and not a USDA plan.”
Prior to the meeting, House Transportation Chairman Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, cautioned the bill’s sponsors to be careful with their wording. He added that this is the first time in his 11 years at the Capitol he’s seen a sponsor and co-sponsor not in complete agreement with a bill’s amendments.
“What we’re here to talk about is these amendments, not personalities, not emotion,” Palmer said. “I think we’re all very clear on there’s issues that come into play that we need to be careful with … This has been an emotional issue.”