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Capitol Reflections: 2024 Session, Issue 11

By: Idaho Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs




“Democracies have been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death.” - James Madison





Ensuring a Level Playing Field


Occasionally, residents of Idaho find themselves at odds with state agencies regarding the interpretation of laws or rules. If they cannot come to an amicable agreement, these disputes usually go to court.  Unfortunately, there is a tendency for courts to defer to the agency’s interpretation if there are two equally plausible ways to interpret the language.

H626 supports and defends Idaho citizens by ensuring our judicial system does not automatically defer to a state agency’s interpretation of any law or administrative rule. It also directs the courts to interpret the law or rule de novo, meaning they will conduct their own interpretation of any vague or ambiguous language and come to their own conclusion as to what the legislature intended. 

Finally, if there is any doubt as to the meaning of an Idaho rule or law, the judiciary is directed to interpret the language “in favor of a reasonable interpretation that limits agency power and maximizes individual liberty.”

This same issue is being discussed right now at the federal level.  The U.S. Supreme Court is deliberating over two cases that will ultimately determine if the federal court system will continue to unfairly disadvantage citizens by automatically giving deference to federal agency interpretation of federal laws or regulations. Farm Bureau strongly supports reversing this decades-old practice at the federal level.

H626 is a very timely and appropriate bill which will ensure that government continues to serve citizens rather than the other way around. H626 ensures that Idaho citizens are on a level playing field when they disagree with a state agency and end up in court. 

H626 has been approved by the House on a vote of 58-11 and has received a recommendation that it “do pass” in the Senate State Affairs Committee. It is now awaiting approval by the entire Senate prior to being transmitted to the Governor for his signature. IFBF supports H626.








Senate Amends and Passes Ag Land Protection Bill



This week, the Senate amended H608 and passed the bill on the floor. The amendment simply added a carve out for existing public highway rights-of-way to the eminent domain provision of the bill. Though we were not thrilled with the idea of amending the bill, we are still supportive of the legislation and continue to lobby for its passage. We believed that the concerns expressed in the Senate committee regarding existing rights-of-way for highways would have been addressed in the public hearing process outlined in H608. Nonetheless, the amendment provides a clear and narrow carveout for existing highways.

H608a will now be sent back to the House for consideration of concurrence. Farm Bureau asks the House to continue to support the bill with the amendment. IFBF supports H608a. 









State Grazing Lease Term Flexibility Approved



 increases the maximum length of state grazing leases to 40 years. Currently, state grazing leases are limited to 20 years, while many are only 10 years. S1342 would provide additional flexibility for the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) to authorize state grazing leases for up to 40 years at their discretion.

This idea was proposed by IDL since many leases have not received competitive bids historically, and there is a low probability that they will in the future. Therefore, to reduce overhead expenses in administering the renewal of leases, IDL felt that it would be a benefit to the state to extend the lease term on many state grazing leases.

Currently, Commercial leases of state land for other purposes can be made for up to 49 years, so a 40-year term for grazing leases would not be unusual. The discretion would still lie with IDL, but it is likely those leases on scattered sections, particularly those that lie wholly within federal lands, or wholly within private lands, would be moved to a longer lease term when they come up for renewal.

IDL will likely maintain current lease lengths on those leases which have historically received competitive bids.

S1342 has now been signed into law by Governor Little. The Idaho Cattle Association, Senator Mark Harris (R-Soda Springs) and Rep Judy Boyle (R-Midvale) were the sponsors of S1342 IFBF supports S1342.








Pesticide Labeling Bill Stalled



In past issues of Capitol Reflections, there have been reports on different versions of legislation dealing with pesticide warning labels and efforts to clarify that existing labeling regulations should be sufficient warning regarding risk. S1245 and H653 have all stalled in the process, and this week another bill has been added to that list.

S1432 proposed to do essentially the same things as the previous bills, with the difference of the legislation having a 3-year sunset provision and only applying to products approved by the EPA prior to July 1, 2024. Unfortunately, there is still not sufficient support for this proposal to advance this year in the legislature.

With the ever-growing number of frivolous lawsuits being brought against pesticide manufacturers, this topic becomes even more relevant. Crop production tools such as pesticides are extremely important to modern agriculture, and are essential for our nation’s food security. Farmers are trained and educated to apply these tools as prescribed by the product label to ensure safety to themselves, the environment, and the end user of their products. They are regulated on the use of these ag chemical products and are also incentivized by basic economic principles to use these resources judiciously.

We hope that elected officials will recognize the importance of these tools for farmers and ranchers, and also the reality of the fact that currently many of the key ingredients for these ag chemical products are source here domestically in Idaho. If these manufacturers are forced out of business here in the U.S., our growers will be forced to seek products that are produced abroad, only furthering our dependence on other countries to help supply us with the necessary tools to produce the food for our citizens.

Farm Bureau policy supports the availability of these highly regulated ag chemical products for agricultural producers. Agricultural chemicals are important in continuing to supply consumers with an abundant, safe, nutritious, high quality, and reasonably priced food supply. We are committed to working with legislators in future sessions on bills to address this topic, and we thank those legislators who supported the agricultural industry this session by supporting these proposals.  









Stray Livestock Bill to Receive Amendments



was heard in the Senate Committee on Agricultural Affairs Thursday morning. After discussion on the bill, it was sent to the amending order with the goal to make it abundantly clear the bill does not affect any current open range or fence law. It was never the objective of H712 to change those laws, but the committee felt that needed to be clarified.

The goal of the legislation is to protect open range while discouraging bad actors from willfully allowing their livestock to trespass on other people’s property without regard for damages or property rights. More details about the bill can be found in Capitol Reflections Issue 10. This bill is the result of a collaboration between Idaho Farm Bureau, the Idaho Cattle Association, and the Idaho Grain Producers Association to resolve this challenging issue while continuing to protect open range.

H712 has already been approved in the House and will be considered by the entire Senate following amendment. IFBF supports H712.







Resources Available to Follow During Session:

Legislative Website Homepage: HERE

2024 Legislative Session Bill Center: HERE

List of Senate Committee Assignments: HERE

List of House Committee Assignments: HERE

Current Senate Committee Agendas: HERE

Current House Committee Agendas: HERE

Watch Committee Meetings and Floor Sessions Live: HERE

Governor’s Bill Action and Legislative Communications: HERE