Some bills have bright future, while others are stalled in Statehouse

Some bills have bright future, others stalled.

BOISE - It has been a busy week at the Statehouse as Idaho lawmakers continue to debate and decide what will become law for Idahoans.

While a new sexting code and concealed carry bill move forward, some pieces of legislation are getting no traction. There is a feeling of disappointment for some at the Capitol as hope is dimming for the future of a few heavy bills. For some others, there is excitement surrounding the possibility of new laws that would help Idahoans avoid breaking the law.

But with each day that ticks by, hope is being shattered.

"It may be late in the session but it's never too late to do the right thing," "Add The Words" chair Chelsea Gaona-Lincoln, said.

Now three months in to the session, lawmakers say the fate of certain bills isn't looking good this year, like the anti-discrimination "Add the Words" bill.

"I think we are past the point of actually getting something passed," Idaho Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill (R- Rexburg) told KTVB.

LGBT supporters say they've been trying to get something on the books for a decade, while lawmakers say they've been trying to work on a compromise.

"We want something that is going to maybe not be embraced, but at least be accepted when we get through. Because whenever you're dealing with a compromise there's something for everybody to hate," Sen. Hill said.

But "Add the Words" activists say as far as discussing legislation with the true stakeholders, they haven't been involved at all this session.

Yet with each day that ticks by, other pieces of legislation are embraced.

"We're not saying sexting is okay to be engaged in - especially as a minor - but it doesn't need to be a felony," Rep. Greg Chaney (R- Caldwell) said. "it doesn't need to be a permanent blemish on somebody's record."

House Bill 555 lessens the punishment a kid would face for sexting, what Rep. Chaney calls a "teen mistake." It wouldn't put them on the sex offender registry for creating child pornography and it would be a misdemeanor that could be expunged from their record if photos/videos are not used for extortion or blackmail purposes.

"Certainly there's a difference between youthful ignorance and criminal intent," Chaney added.

The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and is heading to the full House for a vote. Meanwhile, a permitless carry bill is gaining momentum on the other side of the building.

"We've had it throughout our state's history in the counties and it hasn't been a problem," Sen. Curt McKenzie (R- Nampa) told KTVB.

It was introduced last week and Sen. McKenzie says the outcome would be that "most law-abiding citizens would be able to concealed carry both in the counties and the cities."

The senator says the bill will have a full hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee on March 14.

Those who rally behind this concealed carry bill say Idaho needs to do more to protect people's constitutional right to bear arms. Those who rally behind the anti-discrimination "Add the Words" bill say Idaho needs to do more to protect people's human rights.

There is another piece of legislation that's been put on the back burner: a religious exemption amendment, also known as the 'Faith Healing' bill. Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise) drafted the bill and it was supposed to have a print hearing on Wednesday, but that hearing was canceled. Now lawmakers tell advocates there isn't enough time.

Idaho law currently protects parents from criminal charges if they choose not to bring their child to the doctor for religious reasons, and the child ends up dying from a treatable illness. This bill would require parents to seek medical help if their child's life is at risk.

"I think a child really doesn't have ability to make their own decision on what they want in their life," said Dr. Joshua Durham with Saint Alphonsus Family Medicine. "They don't have ability to decide, is denying medical care really what I would want or not."

Dr. Durham says there is a lot of psychological pressure in religious groups that don't allow parents to get that medical help. He believes many of these parents really do want to take their child to the doctor, but they're afraid of the consequences they may face from their community.

Pretty soon, we will see many bills put in to law, while many others are put on a shelf until the next go-around.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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