Lots of hot button issues this week. Let’s dive in:
A batch of anti-LGBTQ bills are moving forward in the House. H500, Rep. Ehardt’s bill to ban transgender women from playing on women’s high school and college sports teams, advanced to the full House this week. So did Blackfoot Rep. Julianne Young’s bill that would ban transgender Idahoans from changing their birth certificates to affirm their gender identities. H465, the bill that criminalizes gender-affirmation treatments for minors, is scheduled for a Tuesday hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
If it seems like this year’s legislative attacks on LGBTQ Idahoans are particulary egregious, you’re not alone. These bills, unfortunately, might not even truly originate in our state. More than 200 similar bills, written by outside interest groups, are popping up all over the country.
Here is some information on the ACTUAL SCIENCE surrounding this issue: https://www.barbellmedicine.com/blog/shades-of-gray-sex-gender-and-fairness-in-sport/
And, speaking of stealing ideas, coming up this week, in a hearing before the House
Judiciary, the bill increasing the marriage age to 16 is being heard. While this bill is a step in the right direction, let’s not forget that a very similar bill was brought forward by Democrats last session and was voted down. The main difference? The original bill required a judge to sign off on marriages for those 16 and 17 and this new bill only requires a parent’s say-so. It’s interesting that folks like Ehardt refer to high school students as “kids” when insisting they can’t play sports or decide who they are, but that they’re all of a sudden “adult” enough to enter into a legally-binding relationship.
Ehardt also apparently doesn’t trust kids to appropriately handle learning about human sexuality. This week she resurrected a bill from last session that goes beyond making sex ed classes opt-in only. It expands the reach beyond sex education to include *any* lessons addressing human sexuality, regardless of the class. So history, English literature, art, biology — all of those subjects would require parental permission for any lessons that veer into the territory of what Barb Ehardt thinks is human sexuality. YIKES. How does this bill fit into Ehardt’s supposed interest in reducing government overreach, exactly? The bill was introduced in the House Education Committee this week but there’s no hearing scheduled yet. https://www.idahostatejournal.com/news/local/idaho-falls-rep-barbara-ehardt-introduces-sex-ed-bill/article_09e9f3d6-3722-5120-8b9d-ac1dca8b2715.html
Renter protections are headed to the House as well. These are important bills because they give renters a longer time period to find more affordable housing in the face of steep increases in rates. Another bill is designed to ensure that renters get their security deposits back as agreed, requiring an itemized list detailing what tenants need to do to get their security deposit. https://www.idahopress.com/news/local/renter-related-bills-sent-to-the-house-floor/article_b08ec4fd-33f0-5ed0-8e2f-22ba26869d19.html
Other good moves the legislature made this week: The House unanimously passed Joint Memorial 13, which increases access to Suboxone, a medication that helps treat narcotic addiction; the House Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee approved an increase to the higher education budget; and a bill that would legalize industrial hemp in Idaho and bring the state in line with federal law was introduced in the Senate State Affairs Committee.
For a good roundup of this week’s legislative events, check out the Notebook from the Post Register’s Nathan Brown. https://www.postregister.com/news/government/legislative-notebook-taxes-and-transgender-issues/article_397402a1-17a6-51bb-8427-d02e8424de15.html
Make sure you check the FB page for information about presidential candidate activities in our area. So far, organizers for the Bloomberg, Klobuchar, and Warren campaigns have reached out to us, and we’ve posted their information on our page.