This week, we had a unique version of Capitol Clarity where we held a model committee meeting. Members of the public were invited to serve in the role of legislators, to hear the presentation of legislation, listen to testimony, and debate the bill.
Before we began, we discussed the rules of decorum that apply to legislative committees and why they are important. Some of these rules include addressing members of the committee through the chair, avoiding impugning the motives of legislators or bill sponsors, and refraining from interrupting, clapping, cheering, or otherwise disrupting the process.
Thank you to Rep. Judy Boyle for serving as the chair of our model committee and to Sgt. Dan McKnight for presenting the bill for our model committee to consider. Dan is a veteran of 13 years, who served in the Idaho National Guard for 10 years. From 2005 through 2007, he was among the first combat units deployed to Afghanistan.
The bill he presented is known as "Defend the Guard" legislation, which would require that a State's National Guard units cannot be deployed to long term combat duty overseas unless congress has declared war, as provided by the U.S. Constitution.
"Unlike the swamp in Washington, D.C., I don't bow down to the gods that they worship. The gods of endless war, the gods of war profiteering, the gods of the military industrial complex. My God inspired the Founding Fathers to create the Constitution, which protects our God-given rights," Dan said in closing his presentation. "And the people have granted certain rights and powers to the federal government. Committing American lives and treasure to war is a power that is so sacred that it was granted to a body of representatives of the people. Defend the Guard legislation brings that balance of power back to where it should be."
Several of the model committee legislators asked questions about the bill and its applications. After the introduction and committee questions, a member of the Boise State University debate team spoke in opposition to the bill. We appreciate his thorough and intelligent debate.
The committee then engaged in some discussion and debate on the bill. A motion was made to "send the bill to the floor with a do-pass recommendation" This is the term used in legislative committees to refer to passing a bill and encouraging the full chamber to pass it as well. A rollcall vote was taken and the vote was 18-1 in favor.
You can watch the full video of the model committee meeting at this link. You can learn more about Defend the Guard legislation at DefendTheGuard.us.
Idaho Legislative Session
As of the end of the 7th week of the 2021 Legislative Session, there have been 438 bills, resolutions, and memorials printed. On Thursday, the Senate voted down its first bill this session, SB 1109, on a tie vote that was broken by the President of the Senate. In case you are not aware, the Lieutenant Governor serves as the President of the Senate.
On Friday, the Senate introduced SJR 2, a resolution proposing a state constitutional amendment to allow the Legislature to call itself into special session. Under Joint Rule 20, proposed constitutional amendments must be introduced on or before the thirty-sixth day of the session, but a provision of the rule allows this requirement to be waived by the presiding officer of either chamber upon presentment of a signed petition by the majority or minority leadership of the camber. I was presented with such a petition and was therefore able to waive the requirement so that SJR 2 could be introduced.
A number of bills have been introduced this session dealing with emergency powers, the powers of health boards and the Director of the Health and Welfare Department, and to define terms including "epidemic," "pandemic," and "quarantine." Several bills have been introduced to combat voter fraud as well.
One interesting bill printed this week, HB 253, would require a vote of the people before a taxing district could spend more than $10,000 on a work of public art.
We're still waiting for the bills dealing with meaningful tax relief. The only one printed so far, HB 199, hasn't moved forward and is supposed to be replaced with a revised proposal soon.
All the bills printed this session are available to read on the legislative website at this link.