Senator Don Cheatham Newsletter – District 3
Below are some recent activities and highlights taking place in the Idaho Capitol. I hope you enjoy the information. For more details, you can log onto legislature.idaho.gov where you will find bills, committee recordings, and live stream videos of our House and Senate floor sessions. I look forward to your involvement.
Legislators honor fallen Idaho servicemen
Last Thursday, Idaho Legislators honored and remembered fallen Idaho servicemen Sergeant First Class Dustin Ard and Specialist Michael T. Osorio with the passage of Senate Resolution 108. Their families were present. Sergeant Ard, born in Idaho Falls, gained the rank of Sergeant within the Green Berets after joining the military in 2011. He died on August 29, 2019 from combat-related wounds in the Zabul Province of Afghanistan while serving in the First Special Forces Group. Specialist Osorio, from Horseshoe Bend, enlisted in 2017 and joined the Third Armored Brigade as an intelligence analyst. He died on April 23, 2019, in the Taji Province of Iraq.
Sergeant Ard and Specialist Osorio both earned numerous commendations and awards during their service, including the Bronze Star for Sergeant Ard and the Army Achievement Medal for Specialist Osorio. The families of the fallen soldiers joined Senators at the Capitol to celebrate the lives of these two heroes. Remembrances from family, friends, and fellow soldiers were read on the Senate Floor and performances of “We Will Not Forget” and “Land of the Free, Thanks to the Brave” were sung by children from the Chief Joseph School of the Arts in their honor. A reception was held later that day, giving Legislators the opportunity to thank the families personally.
Suicide Prevention Advocacy Day at the Capitol
A suicide death is one of the most difficult to bear. As the second leading cause of death in Idaho youth, the Gem State lost 418 residents to suicide in 2018. On Tuesday, Legislators met with members of the Idaho Suicide Prevention Coalition and the Suicide Prevention Program to learn about the statewide resources for suicide prevention, training, and education. Earlier this session, the 211 Idaho Care Line, currently operated by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, partnered with the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline to help those in need of immediate attention. Now by dialing 2-1-1, this three-digit number connects the caller to an operator immediately, eliminating extra steps.
Previously, the 211 Idaho Care Line directed callers to an operator who would then provide them a ten-digit Suicide Prevention Hotline number—this number will remain available at (208) 398-4357. Both hotline numbers, available to all Idahoans, provide crisis intervention, emotional support, resource referrals, links to local services, and follow-up for those at risk along with their families and loved ones. One does not have to be suicidal to call and anyone is welcome 24/7.
Congressman Russ Fulcher addresses Idaho Legislators
On Monday, Congressman Russ Fulcher addressed both the Idaho Senate and the Idaho House of Representatives as Idaho’s newest elected U.S. Representative from Idaho’s Congressional District 1. Congressman Fulcher is a former Idaho State Senator who was warmly welcomed back to the Idaho Capitol and shared with Legislators on his responsibilities in Washington, D.C. Congressman Fulcher’s Chief of Staff, Cliff Bayer, also served as an Idaho State Senator. We wish Congressman Fulcher the very best this year as he works hard, representing our great state!
To listen to his complete message in either the House or Senate Chambers, click here and select the media link from March 6, 2020.
Annual Idaho State Prayer Breakfast
The Idaho State Prayer Breakfast is a state version of the National Prayer Breakfast held each year in Washington, D.C. Held in Boise, the Idaho State Prayer Breakfast was inaugurated over 50 years ago with the desire to deepen the spiritual lives and moral fiber of the people of Idaho through service, unity, faith and leadership.
The guest speaker for the breakfast was author, speaker, and U.S. Navy Rescue Swimmer Brian Dickinson who shared his life’s journey of hope and faith. Those who attended also received a beautiful performance from Northwest Nazarene University’s Choir and Orchestra. Several members of the State Legislature attended the breakfast. Click here for more information about the Idaho State Prayer Breakfast.
Coronavirus: Updates and Prevention
COVID-19, known as Coronavirus, is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. There are currently no reported cases in Idaho, and the individual risk in Idaho is low at this time. Governor Little created the “Coronavirus Working Group” as a preventative measure to protect Idahoans. Click here to visit www.coronavirus.idaho.gov.
To minimize the risk of exposure to Coronavirus, do the following:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Legislation at a glance
The following legislation may be of interest to you. Click here to stay updated on the complete list of bills, resolutions, proclamations, and memorials. Note: These bills are not necessarily law but rather issues legislatures are working through. Click the links to see the status of these bills.
H0326: Consistent with the Red Tape Reduction Act, this bill seeks to eliminate obsolete and unnecessary restrictions. Specifically, this would repeal the definition of Veterans listed in Section 65-502(17), Idaho Code, which conflicts with the definition of Veteran defined in Section 65-203, Idaho Code. Specifically, this will remove the more restrictive 180 service day requirement defined in Section 65-502(17), Idaho Code, which conflicts with the 90 service day requirement listed in Section 65-203, Idaho Code. This bill has become law.
H0345: This legislation amends Section 49-1806 by adding language to disallow booting a car for the sole basis of an expired or improper vehicle registration. This bill passed the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor.
H0494: This legislation will increase the grocery tax credit from $120 to $135 per person for individuals age 65 and older and from $100 to $135 per person for all others. The average individual pays approximately $124 per year in sales tax on groceries. This change will essentially offset the sales tax paid on groceries by all Idaho citizens. This legislation is on the House Third Reading Calendar.
H0523: The purpose of this legislation is to build out the career ladder allocation model and provide additional funding to school districts and charter schools so they can retain their most effective, experienced educators. The amendments in this bill build out the current salary-based apportionment model for instructional staff and pupil service staff over the next five years and adds a mechanism for the Legislature to consider increases after the five-year build out. This legislation passed the House and was sent to the Senate Education Committee.
H0575: This bill would establish a framework for tastings at state-owned and operated liquor stores. The bill sets limits on servings based on the same requirements currently in place for distilleries. The bill also defines those limits for the purposes of tastings, as well as how the alcohol can be served and who serves it. This bill passed the House and will be heard in the Senate State Affairs Committee on Friday, March 13th.
H0588: The purpose of this legislation is to educate our youth about the dangers of the use of electronic smoking devices by minors. It establishes an education program in each public health district in the State of Idaho. The educational program shall be administered by each public health district to educate students, parents, teachers, and the community at large on the dangers of the use of electronic smoking devices by minors. This bill was sent to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.
H0611: The purpose of this legislation is to ensure uniform laws of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes across the state by preventing local authorities from implementing varying regulations. It would not interfere with or limit any local unit of government from regulating public use or planning and zoning of these products. This bill passed the House, was sent to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, and is awaiting a hearing.
H0614: The purpose of this legislation is to treat the use of certain electronic devices behind-the-wheel as an infraction. The bill addresses safety concerns associated with a significant portion of distracted driving crashes. The legislation defines enforcement and retains conditions under which electronic device communications would be allowed. This legislation also addresses the problem of having a growing patchwork of local ordinances. This bill was sent to the House Transportation and Defense Committee.
S1237: Current Idaho law limits the permit requirement for hunting stocked upland game birds to state wildlife management areas (WMAs), and identifies the permit required to hunt stocked birds as a WMA Upland Game Bird Permit. This bill expands the permit’s applicability to cover hunting in additional areas with stocked upland game birds as designated by the Commission, and deletes the WMA reference from the name of the permit to reflect this change. The expansion of permit applicability will support stocking at locations in addition to WMAs as circumstance and bird availability allows. The federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act regulates the hunting of tundra swan and other waterfowl and migratory birds. With federal approval, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission may join neighboring states to authorize limited tundra swan hunting. This bill establishes a swan tag and related tag cost. This bill passed the Senate and was sent to the House Resources and Conservation Committee.
S1249: This legislation amends the Idaho Code § 49-420 to create a Choose Life license plate by the addition of a new section 49-420R. This will provide a special license plate option for people who wish to proudly express their support of the unborn children. This bill was signed by the Governor.
S1297: Amends Idaho Code by adding a new Section 49-420R to be designated as the “Too Great For Hate” specialty license plate. This bill passed the Senate by 28-7-0 on February 24th and is awaiting a hearing in the House Transportation and Defense Committee.
S1300: This legislation provides for the fair repair of electronic equipment. It requires manufacturers to make available parts, service literature, diagnostic equipment, and proprietary tools to consumers and independent repair facilities. Electronic equipment ranges from smartphones to farm equipment where a microprocessor is part of the product. The legislative intent is to maintain freedom of commerce by preventing manufacturers of electronic equipment from controlling repair, so the only choice for the consumer is the manufacturer’s owned or controlled facility. This bill was sent to the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee.
S1309: This proposed legislation will revise provisions within the existing elections statutes (Title 34) pertaining to absentee ballots. This is necessary to ensure that the greatest possible opportunity to exercise the right to vote is available to a qualified elector who experiences an emergency situation that requires hospitalization immediately preceding an election. This proposed legislation includes an emergency clause, as it could be applied to those elections occurring this year prior to June 1, specifically the presidential and/or statewide primaries in March and May respectively, upon passage. This bill passed the Senate and was sent to the House State Affairs Committee.
S1333: This legislation will regulate all beer products regardless of alcohol content to make regulation of beer more straightforward. This legislation will also change the standard of measurement from alcohol by weight to alcohol by volume to align Idaho law with Federal laws and the widely accepted industry standard of measurement. Over the course of three years, 5% of revenues derived from “strong beer” will be reallocated from the Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission to the General Fund resulting in an increase to the General Fund. Regulation of beer, including legal limits of alcohol content and tax rates will remain the same as written in current law. This legislation is awaiting a hearing in Senate State Affairs Committee.
SCR118: The purpose of this Concurrent Resolution is to establish March 14 as a day of recognition to be celebrated in perpetuity for Idaho Women. This concurrent resolution seeks to recognize and celebrate all the contributions that Idaho women have made and will continue to make in Idaho and across the country. The Concurrent Resolution was adopted by both the House and the Senate.
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