BOISE — Idaho House members rolled out a variety of personal bills this week, including efforts to eliminate immunization requirements, raise the state’s minimum wage and adopt term limits for Congress.
Personal bills almost never get a public hearing, much less an actual vote.
They accomplish little, other than giving lawmakers an opportunity to express support or opposition regarding particular issues without going through the normal committee process.
Members of the minority party often use personal bills to indicate the type of issues they would advocate for if they were in the majority.
That proved to be the case this session as well, as House Democrats accounted for 11 of the 13 personal bills submitted by this week’s deadline.
Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, submitted one of the two Republican bills. She wants to overturn a new rule requiring a second meningitis vaccination for high school students.
The House Health and Welfare Committee approved the rule on a 7-6 vote earlier this year; the Senate has yet to take action.
During the Health and Welfare hearing, state officials noted that meningitis is a rare disease, occurring only about five times in Idaho since 2005.
However, it can be fatal in 10 to 15 percent of cases and often causes debilitating injuries in survivors.
A second vaccine often is needed to fully immunize younger students. The proposed rule would add that to the list of required high school vaccinations.
A couple of people testified against the rule, citing fears that the vaccinations themselves could lead to injuries.
Several lawmakers opposed it as well — including Rep. Mike Kingsley, R-Lewiston — saying the government shouldn’t interfere in a family’s private health care decisions.
Giddings’ resolution suggests the rule should be rejected because it’s “not consistent with legislative intent.”
Other personal bills introduced Friday include:
Congressional term limits
House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, introduced a joint memorial calling for a constitutional amendment limiting the number of years someone can serve in Congress.
He proposed a 16-year limit for representatives and an 18-year limit for senators.
Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, submitted a joint resolution adding an equal rights amendment to the Idaho Constitution. The resolution notes that in 2015, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research ranked Idaho 50th in the nation for the status of women.
Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, introduced two bills seeking to repeal state laws that prevent cities from adopting bans on plastic bags or raising the minimum wage.
Rubel also introduced legislation supporting the direct election of the president and vice president.
Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, wants to block a new rule that allows transgender individuals to ask that the gender marking on their birth certificate be changed to reflect their sexual identity. The rule was proposed following a 2018 court ruling that declared Idaho’s prohibition on such birth certificate amendments unconstitutional.
Rep. John McCrostie, D-Boise, introduced a bill banning “conversion therapy,” a controversial psychological technique sometimes used to “convert” gay men and lesbians to heterosexuality.
Rep. Sue Chew, D-Boise, submitted legislation to raise Idaho’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8.25 per hour on July 1. The rate would continue to increase to $12 per hour by 2021, after which it would be adjusted annually by the rate of inflation.
No personal bills were introduced in the Senate this year.
In the House, Speaker Scott Bedke typically handles the bills the same way as his predecessors: by referring them to the House Ways and Means Committee, where they never again see the light of day.
William L. Spence may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 791-9168.