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Idaho Legislative session concludes

The 2017 Idaho Legislature ended its session on Sunday, March 29 after three months of  discussing over 300 bills in the House and 200 in the Senate. 

House Bills 146, 149, as well as Senate Bills 1147 and 1033 are among the legislation passed this session. These bills expand opportunities and clarify laws for the Idaho and Boise State community.

House Bill 149

“(House Bill 149) amends existing law to provide additional forms of personal identification that may be presented at the polls,” according to the bill text.

Prior to this bill being passed, concealed-carry permits did not count as valid identification to vote despite the formal process needed to acquire one. 

“This added concealed-carry permits as an acceptable form of identification when you go to vote. This adds more options, and it’s important citizens are aware of those options,” said Political Science Professor, Jaclyn Kettler. 

Concealed-carry permits are already a form of state identification and this allows for that to be further validated, according to Kettler.

Elections—both national and local—vary from state to state. 

“Anyway to expand people’s ability to vote is always a good idea. States have the autonomy to make that decision,” said freshman political science major, Hayden Rogers.

There are many different reasons states like Idaho may prefer certain ID types over others, or choose to expand their options. 

“The processes for acquiring certain types of ID are different, and some states make it more restrictive to allow for an extra level of security, while others are more welcoming of various IDs such as concealed-carry permits or student IDs,” Kettler said.

House Bill 146

House Bill 146 amends existing law to provide a victim of sexual assault not be denied medical examinations—despite inability to pay for an examination—and revises the stipulations regarding the duration of retention of sexual assault evidence kits.

“Last session, a bill was passed that ensured testing of the kits, and it was not clear how long to keep the evidence. Often bills will be amendmendments—corrections or further clarification of past bills,” Kettler said. “It is expensive to keep the kits for a prolonged amount of years. It does involve cost for local law enforcement, therefore this was important to make explicit.”  

This bill also helps to provide kits for victims regardless of their abilities to pay for them, according to the bill text. 

“There was a lot of support, because it allows for transparency, accessibility and it works well for everyone from victims to the exoneration process,” Kettler said. 

Clarification and amendments of bills—though common—is crucial to the law-making process. 

“Any extra level of precaution and security in clarifying the law helps to ensure mistrials, and provides further security for victims,” Rogers said.

Senate Bill 1147

Senate Bill 1147, “Amends and adds to existing law to provide for the transfer of college credits at full value from one Idaho public college, or university, to another,” according to the bill text.

“It can be very frustrating for students when credits are not transferring. The frustration of constituents can lead to senators proposing these kinds of bills you may normally think would be held by universities, or the Idaho State Board of Education,” Kettler said. 

This is especially crucial given the number of students transferring through the collegiate system is increasing. 

“It is very hard to make changes that benefit new college students in Idaho,” Rogers said. “Changes have to go through the education committee and the (Idaho State) Capitol first, making it a very lengthy process.”

Senate Bill 1033

Senate Bill 1033, “Amends existing law to revise a definition to clarify the conditions under which student data is personally identifiable, to specify the storage of student data and to provide the Idaho State Board of Education and the Department of Education shall ensure the security of the educational data system,” according to the bill text.

Universities are constantly keeping and collecting student data to use for a variety of purposes, according to Kettler. 

“Student data at a university could include personal information or academic information. There is common concern about keeping this information private,” Kettler said. 

The bill proposed outlined  boundaries in which this data can be stored, used and published. 

“This allows for further clarification on what needs to be scraped from personal identification and when basic information could be used for research or other purposes,” Kettler said. “It is a good sign that legislators are thinking about these elements.”

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