Capitol Letters | The Idaho Legislature Report

·3 min read
Capitol Letters newsletter is a daily look at Idaho Legislature’s 2022 session, from highlights and reported stories from the past day’s events to tomorrow’s important votes & hearings. (McClatchy)

By Hayat Norimine, Accountability Editor; and Ryan Suppe, State Politics Reporter

Four known COVID-19 cases among lawmakers

Two Republican legislators also tested positive for COVID-19 in the first week of the session, including Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder, Idaho Statesman’s State Politics Reporter Ryan Suppe reported.

“Probably another member of the House or Senate brought it with them from the break,” Winder said. “It was my turn, I guess.”

That makes four known cases among lawmakers within the first five days back at the Capitol. Two Boise Democrats publicly announced their positive tests in a news release last week.

No one is tracking COVID-19 positive tests at the Capitol, and it’s ultimately up to lawmakers to disclose whether they’ve tested positive, according to the Legislative Services Office. Read Suppe’s full story here.

Have you heard about ‘Add the Words’? Here’s what it means

Right now, state law protects someone from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin or disability. But for more than a decade, Idaho’s LGBTQ advocates have been trying to “add the words” — “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” In 2020, the bill died in a Senate committee.

So on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a Garden City Democrat brought the bill back. Rep. John McCrostie introduced it as a personal bill on the House floor. It’s not expected to get a hearing, but McCrostie told the Statesman Democrats believe it’s “something that needs to be out for public consumption, for public discussion.”

“At least this is something that we’re talking about today, and I hope that we can talk about it more,” McCrostie told Suppe. Read the full story here.

Idaho’s superintendent of public instruction pitches K-12 budget proposal

Sherri Ybarra, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, wants to spend $39.3 million to provide an optional, full-day kindergarten — a little less than what lawmakers have estimated it would cost. Ybarra’s also requesting $67.7 million to raise salaries and benefits for educators and staffers. Read Idaho Education News’ full story here.

Other key bills introduced yesterday

  • In 2020, legislators passed a bill that protects businesses, schools and government agencies from liability over the coronavirus. For example, they would be protected if someone tries to sue over catching COVID-19. A new bill extends that protection, which was slated to expire July 1.

  • A new bill would limit local governments from being able to impose caps on rental fees and deposits, according to Idaho Reports. Boise already has a cap on application fees, and this state law would override that local ordinance.

Committees to watch:

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