Weekly Legislative Update (March 16-20)

idaho-capitol

PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION – The Senate voted 23 to 12 to approve SB 1096a to add a new chapter to Title 33, Idaho Code affirming parental rights in education.  Sponsored by Senator Den Hartog and Senator Souza, this new chapter affirms that a student’s parent or guardian is the primary person responsible for the education of the student.  This legislation places the state in a secondary and supportive role to the parent or guardian. The chapter outlines how school districts and public charter schools encourage and facilitate parental involvement in the education of their children.  For instance, school districts and public charter schools are to inform parents about the materials being used in the education of their children.  Parents, who object to materials being used, have the option to withdraw their children from an activity or class.  The act requires an annual notice of parental rights be distributed to parents and guardians.

Proponents of the bill argued that this legislation encourages parental involvement in their children’s education.  Currently, the Idaho Constitution does not state that parents have rights or a role in the education of their children.  This bill would put into law that a student’s parent or guardian is the primary person responsible.  Opponents of the bill argued that this legislation places an extra burden on teachers and school districts.  There was concern that this bill would force schools to customize special curriculum for students designed by their parents.  Proponents point out that the bill does not require this, but rather asserts a parent’s right to make decisions for their child.

REPEALING OF “NETFLIX TAX” – The Senate voted 29 to 5 to approve HB 209 to amend existing law to revise the definition of “tangible personal property”.    This bill serves as clarification on HB 598 on remotely accessed computer software, also known as the “Cloud Services Bill”.  Sponsored by Senator Vick, the purpose of this legislation is to clarify that on-line based subscriptions, such as Netflix, Pandora, and Spotify are services because they do not allow the end user to keep, copy, or permanently use content.  Therefore, these services are not subject to the Idaho Sales and Use Tax.  If an end user is granted a “permanent right to use” digital content, regardless of the method of delivery, then it is subject to the Sales and Use Tax and fits under the description of tangle personal property.  This legislation also removes the definition of “digital videos” in an effort to clarify that broadcast television services, through both cable and satellite methods as well as traditional forms, are not subject to the Idaho Sales and Use Tax.  This legislation will be in full force and in effect on or after April 1, 2015.

KNIVES – The Senate voted 25 to 10 to approve SB 1092 to amend existing law to give the state primacy in knife legislation.  Sponsored by Senator Heider, this legislation states that no city, county or other political subdivision shall enact any ordinance, rule or tax relating to the transportation and possession of a knife or knife making components in this state.  Under current law, Senator Heider stated that it is illegal to carry his folding buck knife in certain cities in Idaho including the city of Twin Falls.  Opponents to this bill were concerned with current state laws permitting public schools to regulate knives on school grounds.  However, all schools in the state can be regulated with a unified law regarding knives on school properties.

TELEMEDICINE – The Senate voted 31 to 3 on HB 189 to allow Idaho’s licensing boards to be in charge of setting their own rules regarding the access of telehealth, or telemedicine.

Sponsored by Senator Heider, the practice of telemedicine allows doctors to consult their patients remotely via computer or telephone.  Telecommunications technology aims to provide opportunities to improve the healthcare of Idaho citizens.

This legislation relies on the existing regulatory boards of the healthcare professions as outlined in Title 54, and requires that any telehealth service be within the scope of license and consistent with the standards of the profession as defined by their board.  The bill also defines how the patient-provider relationship may be established without face-to-face contact and places limitations on the prescriptions that can be authorized via telehealth tools.  This bill increases medical access to Idaho’s many rural communities that may not have all the necessary services where they live.

JUSTICE REINVESTMENT  – In an effort to improve public safety, reduce criminal justice spending and reinvest savings, the Justice Reinvestment data-driven policy aims to decrease spending on corrections and increase public safety.  Sponsored by Senator Lodge, the policies in this bill address three challenges facing the state’s criminal justice system:

  1. A revolving door of recidivism from supervision and diversion programs;
  2. Inefficient use of prison space; and
  3. Insufficient oversight of recidivism-reduction investments.

Justice Reinvestment Overview:  Between 2008 and 2013, Idaho’s prison population increased 10 percent and, by 2019, is projected to grow 16 percent. This legislation is estimated to avert nearly all this growth.  In doing so, it saves Idaho up to $288 million and enables the state to reinvest $33 million in probation and parole officer training, community treatment, and quality assurance measures.  In addition, it is estimated to reduce recidivism by 15 percent.  The legislation accomplishes public-safety and cost-containment objectives in the following ways:

  1. Strengthens probation and parole supervision and diversion programs;
  2. Structures parole to prioritize prison space for violent offenders and to focus resources in the community on reducing recidivism; and
  3. Evaluates programs and validates risk assessments to ensure taxpayer dollars are used wisely.

GUBERNATORIAL APPOINTMENT SPONSORSHIPS THIS WEEK

  • Senator Nuxoll sponsored Mark VonLinkern to the Hazardous Waste Facility Siting License Application Review Panel.
  • Senator Keough sponsored Brent Baker to the Lake Pend Oreille Basin Commission.
  • Senator Lodge sponsored Suzanne Budge to the Hazardous Waste Facility Siting License Application Review Panel.
  • Senator Ward-Engelking sponsored Celia Gould to the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho Board.
  • Senator Burgoyne sponsored Max Black to the State Insurance Fund Board.
  • Senator Hagedorn sponsored Rod Higgins to the State Insurance Fund Board.