Legislature 2019

BOISE — Last week, the fifth of the 2019 legislative session, state officials and lawmakers:

Introduced many more bills

With the deadlines to introduce new legislation coming up, most committees were busy as lawmakers scramble to get their ideas in for consideration. There are way too many to list, but the highlights include bills to:

n Get rid of mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking.

n Ban teenagers under the age of 16 from marrying, and set up more regulations surrounding the marriages of 16- and 17-year-olds.

n Make female genital mutilation a felony.

n Let police arrest someone charged with threatening violence at a school, rather than write a misdemeanor citation.

n Set standards for bounty hunters in Idaho.

n Require parents to opt into sexual education for their children, rather than requiring those who don’t want it to opt out.

n Legalize hemp.

Fought over redistricting

Republicans are pushing a constitutional amendment to add a seventh member to the Commission for Reapportionment. This member would be picked by a majority vote of the governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, controller and superintendent of public instruction, all of whom are currently Republicans, and likely would mean a commission that, for now, is split evenly between the two major parties would have a 4-3 Republican majority.

Supporters of the measure, which was introduced on Wednesday, say it would get rid of the possibility for a deadlock and reduce the risk of costly court fights, both of which have accompanied some past redistrictings. Opponents view it as an attempt to replace a mostly nonpartisan process with one where Republicans can gerrymander the state’s legislative districts, and the Democrats have been pushing back. Democrats walked out of the House State Affairs Committee before it voted to approve the measure Friday. A little later when the full House met Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, objected to waiving the reading of the bills being voted on, forcing the clerk to read them in full. Erpelding said he plans to continue his protest on Monday and “as long as I need to.”

This week

Monday is the deadline to introduce bills in many committees, so expect a flurry of new legislation. Everyone will also be watching Monday to see if the Democrats continue their protest against the redistricting constitutional amendment. The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee will hold its last week of hearings before it begins to write budget bills. The biggest one it is hearing next week is the Medicaid budget, on Monday.

Quotes of the week

“A 44-year-old could try to marry a 12-year-old in our state.”

-Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, talking about a bill to ban marriage of people under 16 and put more restrictions on letting 16- and 17-year-olds marry.

“Elections have consequences. They are elected by the people, these officers.”

-Rep Randy. Armstrong, R-Inkom, defending a constitutional amendment to add a seventh member to the state’s redistricting commission who would be appointed by five statewide elected officials.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.

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