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Sunday, December 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Otter signs 31 bills into law, a ‘considerable stack’ still to go…

Gov. Butch Otter has signed another batch of bills into law today – still no vetoes. Among the new laws, most of which take effect July 1: HB 494a, making first-time offenses for minor consumption or possession of alcohol an infraction, rather than a misdemeanor; HB 497a, requiring lobbyists for government agencies to file the same disclosure reports that registered lobbyists already must file; HB 521a, providing limited immunity for prosecution for alcohol consumption or possession to minors who call for emergency medical help; HB 556a, expanding the role of judges in determining placement of foster children and making some changes in when a child can be moved from one foster home to another.

HB 630, raising pay by $3,000 a year for career-technical instructors who hold an occupational specialist certificate in the subject they’re teaching; HB 637, the higher ed budget, which increases state funding for Idaho’s four-year colleges and universities next year by 8 percent; HB 646, approving pass-through federal funding for the Clagstone Meadows conservation easement in North Idaho through the state departments of Land and Fish & Game.

SB 1404a, the “Unborn Infants Dignity Act,” forbidding donation of tissue from aborted fetuses for medical research or organ donation; SB 1338, allowing counties to declare federal public land management a “nuisance” and demand abatement; SB 1297, launching an online voter registration system in Idaho, which contains an emergency clause, but the Idaho Secretary of State’s office says won’t be ready until after the November general election.

And Otter signed HB 606a, the urban renewal reform bill, which emerged in part from the work of an interim legislative committee. It allows the option of elections for local urban renewal boards; requires a 60 percent vote for urban renewal funds to be used for public buildings like city halls and libraries; and requires all urban renewal plans to be posted annually. It also specifies when modifications to plans should trigger a re-set of property values used for tax-increment financing. Most new laws take effect July 1, unless an emergency clause puts them into effect earlier or they contain a delayed effective date that’s later than that.

In all, Otter posted 31 bill-signings today (you can see the full list here), and press secretary Jon Hanian said there may yet be another batch before the day is over. The governor has until tomorrow to decide whether to sign, veto or allow to become law without his signature SB 1342a, the Bible-in-schools bill that’s raised questions about its contradictions of the Idaho Constitution.

The remaining bills – “a considerable stack,” according to Hanian – mostly arrived at the governor’s office after the Legislature adjourned sine die, which means he has 10 days from the date of receipt, not counting Sundays, to act on them. The last batch of bills arrived in the governor’s office on March 28 at 4:42 p.m., so Otter has until Friday at the same time to take action on them, or they become law without his signature.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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