Idaho Dispatch

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Rep. Nichols (R-Middleton): The Good, Bad, & Ugly of the 2021 Legislative Session

By • June 1, 2021

State Representative Tammy Nichols (R-Middleton) has responded to the Idaho Dispatch’s “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” survey.

The survey is a simple way for legislators to let their constituents and Idahoans, in general, know what they felt were some of the highlights and lows of the 2021 legislative session.

All legislators from both political parties were sent the same survey.

Here are Nichols’ answers:

The Good: We promised the people of Idaho during our special session in 2020 that we would address the Governor’s powers during an emergency, and that we would do everything within our power to make sure the 3 branches of government were functioning according to the constitution and that not one branch of government was overreaching their controls/powers. Although these 3 bills are not as strong as many of us would have liked (they were watered down because the governor vetoed the original versions), they do pass some of the protections for individual rights and limitations on government during an emergency. Unfortunately, the better bills were vetoed and 5 senators flipped on the ability to override the veto.

 H391 – Ensures Idahoans’ Constitutional rights are never suspended due to an emergency declaration. 

H392 – Ensures the governor from changing any laws or creating new laws during an emergency (like Gov. Little did during the 2020 Primary elections). 

H393 – Requires that any restrictions put in place during a declared state of emergency cannot be based on job type or classification.  (The governor cannot declare some jobs “essential” and others “non-essential.”)

S1217 was also very important as we all heard from our constituents about government picking winners and losers based on being essential or non-essential. Again, this bill is not as strong as the original S1136 (which was vetoed by the governor and 5 senators flip their votes to not override the veto).

S1217 – Idahoans’ right to work can never be suspended, emergency or not.  

Parental rights were also a concern that needed addressed especially during an emergency, this was the purpose for H246.

H246– This bill clarifies that an emergency order or disaster declaration cannot be used as a pretext to violate parental rights. 

The BadHB389 was a complex and rushed attempt at property tax relief. While it does provide some tax relief to some people, it doesn’t go nearly far enough. I took issues with this bill from the beginning, especially because of the less than 24 hour time frame it utilized from start to finish. While there are some positives, there are also many negatives with this bill.  I voted against it in the Revenue and Taxation Committee and again on the House floor as I did not fill this bill was a good solution for Idahoans in general. There was a much better bill that should have been given an opportunity that also have 50+ co-sponsors, but sadly it was never even given a chance by the chairman, leadership, or both. It is unfortunate that we couldn’t do better than what we did to give better tax relief to the people of Idaho. There was an attempt at trying to remove the grocery tax again, but it was not allowed to proceed. The people of Idaho deserve better tax relief.

HB63 was a very important bill regarding health freedom and the ability to determine what goes into your body. I was the sponsor of the bill and unfortunately could not get it heard in the Health and Welfare committee in the house with Chairman Wood. Idahoans are very concerned about this issue and I feel it was a great disservice to the people of Idaho to not take this up. What I ended up doing was taking the essence of this bill and put it into HCR14 in which the legislature acknowledges the rights and freedoms of people to determine what goes into their body. This resolution passed the House unanimously, but unfortunately the Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Martin would not take it up.

S1075 is a bill that to many is a foot in the door to mandatory run preschool and kindergarten. It also requires government-funded ‘parent training’ which is a big concern in itself. This bill passed and was signed into law.

The UglyS1204-This bill was one of the worst in my eyes. This bill deals with ARPA money being brought into the state by the feds. Because of the uncertainties with the money and requirements in general, I would have preferred that the state NOT take the ARPA money at all (we also don’t necessarily need it) and it only further erodes our state sovereignty by beholding us to the feds. Some issues with this bill are the following: It undermines all aspects and any remnants of federalism and state sovereignty. ARPA restricts the state’s ability to cut taxes or reduce spending, is a redistribution of wealth, and expands government. The most unfortunate part of this bill and what really caused me to further reflect and vote against it, was because of line 36 of the bill which states “ARPA funds are borrowed from our grandchildren.”  The debt we are forcing upon our children, grandchildren and probably great-grandchildren is frightening.

H195 is a bill that thankfully failed, but would have been very ugly for Idaho citizens. This bill would have criminalized free speech and protests on public property based on the protest’s proximity to a private dwelling.  In my opinion this bill was out of spite, and to take away the ability for people to hold their elected officials accountable for their actions. The language and definitions in this bill were very vague such as the word ‘annoy’. The language further violates the U.S. Constitution by abridging the freedom of speech and infringing on the right of the people peaceably to assemble.

Tags: GBU, Idaho Legislature, Middleton, Tammy Nichols