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Capitol Reflections: 2024 Session, Issue 12

"Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable character. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men…If men of wisdom and knowledge, of moderation and temperance, of patience, fortitude and perseverance, of sobriety and true republican simplicity of manners, of zeal for the honor of the Supreme Being and the welfare of the commonwealth; if men possessed of these other excellent qualities are chosen to fill the seats of government, we may expect that our affairs will rest on a solid and permanent foundation."- Samuel Adams, U.S. Governor, Statesman, and Signer of the Declaration of Independence






Election Integrity Bill Advances


 seeks to significantly reduce the opportunity for “ballot harvesting” in Idaho which has become a real problem in many other states. Ballot harvesting happens when someone other than the voter gathers or collects ballots and either selectively delivers them or changes how they are voted prior to delivery, normally with the intent to adversely influence an election. Interestingly, Idaho has no laws prohibiting people from gathering ballots for delivery.

H599 specifies that only close family members, a member of the same household, or a caregiver may legally collect or convey a ballot for another person at their request. This language is part of the recommendations from a bi-partisan commission on election integrity at the federal level in 2005, which was co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker.

The report highlighted that mail-in ballots are the form of voting that is most susceptible to fraud and abuse. Secretary of State Phil McGrane testified in support of H599 stating that it would help to reduce the opportunity for fraud in the state. H599 would not change anything for the vast majority of voters. For a small number of individuals, however, a little extra foresight may be necessary to identify who will assist them in getting their ballot to the mailbox or deliver it to the county clerk.

H599 was approved this morning by the Senate State Affairs Committee and was sent to the floor with a “do pass” recommendation. H599 is sponsored by Rep Brandon Mitchell (R-Moscow) and Senator Treg Bernt (R-Meridian).  IFBF policy #114 states:  “We oppose vote harvesting practices.”  IFBF supports H599.






Ag Protection Area Bill Passed and Signed by Governor



This week, the House passed H608a, the bill regarding ag land protection. The Governor signed the bill, and we are excited to see the legislation cross the finish line. We express our gratitude to the numerous Farm Bureau members and friends who contributed to the development of this legislation and are delighted to see its passage. We know there is much more work that needs to be done on this topic, and IFBF remains committed to doing more in this space.











Local Law Enforcement/Immigration Law  



This week, a bill (H753) aiming to grant state law enforcement the authority to enforce federal immigration law was introduced, approved by the House State Affairs Committee and passed by the House. The bill seeks to address a very real problem; however we are concerned that there may be unintended consequences for the state’s agricultural industry.

We wholeheartedly agree that the U.S. Federal Government has utterly failed in enforcing this country’s immigration laws. The current situation along the southern border is a travesty and has reached a level of crisis. Peoples’ lives, families and livelihoods are being severely impacted by this lawlessness. The impacts of the unsecured border and current illegal immigration crisis are not limited to border states but are also felt well into the interior of the country including Idaho. This must change! IFBF remains steadfast that border security needs to be a top priority and immigration laws must be strictly enforced.

With this said, we also want to raise concerns about hastily passing new policy that could have unintended consequences. First, the issue of whether a state has the authority to enforce federal immigration laws is currently being litigated in the courts with a nearly identical law in Texas. It would be prudent to see the results of that case prior to Idaho passing the same law that may need to change depending on the results of the court case. In the meantime, we fully support strict enforcement of all criminal laws, whether perpetrators are illegal immigrants or not.

Second, there is a real potential impact on Idaho’s agricultural industry. It is well understood that a significant portion of the Idaho ag. labor workforce is made up of individuals that are foreign-born. Many of these individuals have worked on our members’ farming and ranching operations for many years, and in some cases for multiple generations. These people are part of our communities and contribute to our society. We don’t believe they are the target of H753, but we are concerned they could unintentionally be impacted by its enactment. These individuals must provide identification to satisfy both federal and state work requirements and most importantly, they are willing to do the work. Our concern with H753 is the unintended potential consequence of a large portion of our workforce being targeted rather than those who have very recently crossed the border.

Farm Bureau policy (AFBF Policy 137) opposes illegal immigration and open borders. Our policy also states that effective enforcement of all immigration laws and border security is a responsibility of the federal government. Additionally, U.S. immigration policy must recognize that agriculture relies on immigrant labor.

We encourage the legislature to take time to work with the agricultural industry before passing this type of policy. IFBF is opposed to H753 as written.








Stray Livestock Bill Passes, Heads to Governor’s Desk




H712aaS (‘aaS’ means ‘as amended in the Senate’) passed the Senate and House this week and heads to the Governor for signature. The bill had a couple of amendments which were simple and did not change the purpose of the bill. Importantly, there is no change to any fencing or open range laws. As the bill states, livestock must be roaming “contrary to law” and without permission. Idaho law continues to require fencing out within open range, just as it always has. To make this abundantly clear, the word ‘trespass’, which was added in the original text, was removed as an amendment.

The goal of the legislation is to protect open range and personal property while discouraging bad actors from willfully allowing their livestock to trespass on other people’s property without regard for damages or property rights. This bill allows law enforcement to ticket livestock owners who, after being contacted by law enforcement and given three days to gather their roaming animals, refuse to do so. The ticket amounts are now fixed rather than an up-to amount, which is the second amendment. H712aaS also provides a fee for damages to the owner of cultivated crops if a livestock owner refuses to recover their livestock.

IFBF appreciates the bill sponsors Rep. Kevin Andrus (R-Lava Hot Springs) and Senator Mark Harris (R-Soda Springs) for bringing the legislation and the members of the legislature who voted in favor of the bill.







Immigration Enforcement Bill Introduced



Representative Judy Boyle (R-Midvale) and Senator Chris Trakel (R-Caldwell) introduced H756, a bill aimed at implementing stricter regulations on business hiring practices, accompanied by penalties. The primary objective is to curtail the employment of illegal immigrants within the state of Idaho. The bill encompasses various provisions, notably the refusal of recognition of driver’s licenses issued to illegal immigrants by other states and the introduction of new medical reporting requirements to gauge the extent of undocumented individuals accessing healthcare services.

However, certain sections of the bill contradict Farm Bureau policy. Notably, it mandates the usage of E-Verify by Idaho businesses with twenty or more employees. Additionally, it stipulates that business owners cannot knowingly hire illegal immigrants, under threat of escalating charges up to felony-level offenses.

This legislation, alongside federal requirements, places Idaho businesses in a precarious position, as federal law obligates employers to accept presented hiring documents without scrutiny. Furthermore, Congress has consistently failed to enact a functional guestworker program capable of addressing year-round labor needs. AFBF policy 135.16.6 states any E-Verify implementation must be preceded by full implementation of a usable agricultural worker program and provide an affirmative defense for employers acting in good faith. IFBF appreciates that the E-Verify requirements proposed in the bill are for larger businesses, but the fact remains there is no improved guest worker program.

H756 imposes stringent regulations on Idaho businesses, particularly within the agricultural sector, without providing a solution to address labor shortages or reconciling with conflicting federal laws. IFBF opposes H756.







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