A student’s guide to Idaho’s 67th Legislature

Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

Idaho’s 67th Legislature has been in session for nearly a month, and dozens of bills have already been introduced that could have widespread impacts for Idahoans. 

For students who are juggling school, work, internships and extracurricular activities, it can be difficult and overwhelming to stay up to date on what is going on at Idaho’s Capitol. Many bills proposed in the Legislature could very quickly have repercussions for students, however, so it’s important to know how you could be affected.

Here are some key pieces of legislation introduced this session that students should pay attention to:

House Bill 2 

House Bill 2 was introduced on Jan. 11, just two days into the Legislature convening. H.B. 2 would allow for “the withholding of sales and use tax revenues from local government entities that defy state law and refuse to investigate or enforce Idaho criminal abortion statutes.”

It is evident from the bill’s contents that it directly targets Boise because it is the only city that has openly said it will not comply with Idaho’s strict abortion regulations. In July of 2022, Boise City Council passed a resolution stating that “investigations for the purpose of prosecuting abortion providers will not be prioritized and additional resources will not be assigned.”

The City of Boise is projected to receive roughly $18 million in sales tax revenue for the 2023 fiscal year, according to the city’s 2021 annual budget. H.B. 2 was sent out of the State Affairs committee with a recommendation to pass, and if it does, Boise could lose up to 8% of its estimated annual revenue. 

House Bill 33 

House Bill 33 is intended to “exempt the sale of certain food items from sales tax,” meaning that certain groceries would no longer be subject to Idaho’s 6% sales tax. Idaho is one of only seven states that applies full sales tax to groceries.

In the eighth annual Idaho Public Policy survey, conducted by researchers at Boise State, it was found that an overwhelming 82% of Idahoans said they would support a grocery tax repeal. 

The cost of living in Idaho has been growing exponentially with food increasing in cost by 10% since 2021 and rent increasing by 36% since 2020, according to the Idaho Center for Fiscal policy. These increases can be felt by Boise State students who would all benefit from a grocery tax repeal.

[Photo of the Idaho Capitol Building.]
Taya Thornton | The Arbiter

House Bill 54 

House Bill 54 would “prohibit the use of student IDs for personal identification at polling places and prohibit personal affidavits in lieu of personal identification.”

This legislation is nearly identical to House Bill 549, which was introduced, but not passed, in the last session. 

Currently, Idaho’s polling locations allow for voters to use a student ID to verify their identity. Additionally, those without access to a real or student ID could sign a personal affidavit ensuring they are who they claim to be. 

H.B. 54 was first introduced to the State Affairs committee on Jan. 30, and it’s likely we will see it debated in the House in the coming weeks. 

If passed, this bill could create a barrier for many Idahoans, especially for students, when trying to vote in elections. While similar legislation did not pass in 2022, roughly ⅓ of this year’s Legislature are new members which could be enough to change the outcome. 

Senate Bill 1008 

Senate Bill 1008 “repeals the existing law to revise provisions regarding concealed weapons,” which specifically removes public universities’ ability to prohibit concealed weapons on campus. 

At Boise State, it is against policy to carry a firearm on campus unless you have met very specific requirements. Those with an enhanced concealed weapon permit may bring firearms to certain parts of campus, but are still not allowed in housing or large entertainment venues. 

However, this could change with S.B. 1008 because Boise State would no longer be able to enforce any of their own weapons policies and would instead have to fully rely on Idaho statutes. 

Senate Bill 1011 

Senate Bill 1011 would establish that “freedom from discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity is a civil right,” which Idaho has refused to acknowledge for years. 

Add the Words is a non-profit organization that has been lobbying for Idaho to add protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity for the past 14 legislative sessions to no avail. 

This bill is regularly reintroduced because hate crimes in Idaho are still prominent, with the large majority of them taking place in Ada County. 

There are a handful of legislators who are strongly advocating for this bill to fail, though the public support for Add the Words is becoming much more widespread.

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