One of the most interesting aspects of the legislative session is the process of amending Idaho’s Constitution. These proposals, when made, will be in the form of a House or Senate Joint Resolution.
This standard is set very high, and any proposal that advances must receive a two-thirds (2/3) supporting vote of the membership of each body; does not have to be signed by the Governor, but is required to be voted upon by Idaho citizens in
the next general election. To amend the constitution, it takes a majority of votes in the general election.
Property Rights Bill Advances
This week an Idaho Farm Bureau sponsored bill H468 received a “do pass” recommendation from the House Resources and Conservation Committee. H468 is designed to prohibit the Idaho Outfitters and Guides (O&G) Licensing Board from requiring a license when a private property owner offers recreational opportunities for a fee on his own private land.
What started out in 1951 as authority to regulate the narrow field of those who provided guiding services or saddle horses or pack animals to hunters or fishermen in Idaho’s backcountry, has slowly but steadily morphed into an over-reaching agency. This agency now claims authority to regulate any recreational activity anywhere in Idaho whether it is completely upon private property or not.
This week the House Resources and Conservation Committee approved the Governor’s wolf bill, H470 on a vote of 14 – 4. Those voting against the bill were Reps Mat Erpelding, Donna Pence, Ilana Rubel and Steve Miller. There were more than 50 people who testified, with a pretty even split between those in favor and those opposed. Most opponents attempted to downplay the dramatic increases in the number of wolves and the havoc they have wreaked on our big game herds. They tried to paint the bill as an extermination order, while proponents argued that we would be lucky to maintain current wolf numbers, even with the implementation of H470. Wolves are exceedingly adept at stealth and it is very difficult for hunters and trappers to be successful when pursuing them. H470 simply provides a funding mechanism to pursue other legal, lethal options to maintain and control wolf numbers.
This week a bill to protect private property rights and prevent anti-agriculture activists from interfering with agricultural operations advanced through the Senate Agricultural Affairs committee. S1337 would prohibit anyone from accessing a farmer’s property, his records or taking audio or video recordings on his property without his express consent. It would also criminalize interference or damage to a farming operation or obtaining employment under false pretenses on a farm.
There was considerable debate in committee from both sides of the issue. Most opponents of the measure continued objected that this would allow farmers to “cover up” inappropriate or unsafe practices. Proponents argued that the bill does not prohibit in any way the ability for someone, even an employee, to contact the proper authorities if they believe something unsafe or incorrect is happening.
On February 5th, Representative Lawerence Denney alongside 10 other House members announced at a Press Conference in the Capitol that the National Republican Committee has adopted a resolution in support of western states taking back public lands.
The resolution condemns the 1976 passage of the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) that ended the nearly two hundred year public policy transferring ownership of federally held lands. Idaho is a 62% federally owned and controlled state and is among other concerned western states including Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska. There is a significant impact on these states and are financially disparaged by the inability to generate jobs and revenue. Each wait to make good on thefederal government’s promise to receive title to these public lands in the same ways other states in the union traditionally have.
Wolf Bill Introduced Amid Controversy
This week Rep. Marc Gibbs (R-Grace) and Senator Bert Brackett (R-Rogerson) introduced H423, the Governor’s wolf control bill. In his state of the state address, Governor Otter called for the creation of a wolf control fund and a state board to manage the fund. He also recommended a one-time appropriation of $2 million, which would then be augmented by $110,000 each year by the livestock industry. This money would be raised through a $25 increase in the brand renewal fee, which ranchers pay every five years, as well as an increase in the wool assessment of two cents per pound. Sportsmen would also match this ongoing funding dollar-for-dollar to assist with wolf control.
The framework for this agreement was negotiated over the summer with the participation of numerous stakeholders, including Idaho Farm Bureau.
This year IFBF Governmental Affairs has heard an earful from Legislators who are upset about rules that agencies have proposed, more so than in any other year. Common complaints include: agencies presenting rules to conform with current practices (meaning their current practices are unlawful), agencies seeking to put into rule practices that are clearly outside of their legal scope and authority, agencies not being completely forthright and transparent when presenting the effects of the proposed rules on citizens, and in some instances agencies have even been less than truthful in presenting who was supportive of the rule.
This week Idaho Farm Bureau was successful in derailing a proposed rule that would have seriously eroded private property rights. The Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board proposed a rule that would have required any person who provides outfitted facilities or services for compensation to be licensed, even if all activities were conducted exclusively upon the person’s own private property.
Many people are under the assumption that outfitted services are only regulated on public lands and only include services such as guiding hunters and fishermen or rafting guides. However, the Outfitters and Guides rules currently include such common Agritourism activities such as wagon rides, trail rides, sleigh rides, back packing, cross country skiing and bicycling, even when these activities are conducted entirely upon private property.