Week 8 Newsletter 2024
March 11, 2024

Proposed University of Idaho Purchase of the University of Phoenix


The State Board of Education may have acted beyond its legal authority and infringed upon the Legislature’s power.  The state’s or the people’s interests may not have been fully considered or protected.  Elizabeth Bowen of the Legislative Services Office has provided a legal opinion regarding the manner in which the University of Idaho has moved toward purchase of the University of Phoenix.  The crux of her argument is:

The Board is attempting to escape its constitutional and statutory limitations by recreating itself as a private corporation. If the Board’s conduct is allowed to stand, an incredibly dangerous precedent would be set, perhaps inspiring other state agencies impatient with their constitutional and statutory restrictions to follow suit. But the practice of governments creating corporations to avoid their constitutional limitations has been denounced by the United States Supreme Court, which observed in the case Lebron v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation: “It surely cannot be that government, state or federal, is able to evade the most solemn obligations imposed in the Constitution by simply resorting to the corporate form.”!


In addition, House Concurrent Resolution 026 “authorizes the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate to act as agents of the Legislature in taking certain actions, including potential legal action.” It passed by a voice vote in the House State Affairs Committee with a “do-pass” recommendation.


Idaho House Approves Bill for Death Penalty in Certain Child Sex Crimes


The Idaho House of Representatives has passed House Bill 515, introducing the death penalty for certain sex crimes against children under 12, with aggravating circumstances. The bill aims to address heinous cases, particularly those involving repeat offenders, by expanding the application of the death penalty beyond first-degree murder cases to include severe cases of lewd conduct with minors. The bill, which passed with a vote of 57 in favor with 10 Democrats and 1 Republican voting against, now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

Supporters argue that the severity of the crimes justifies the potential costs and constitutional challenges. They believe the legislation will serve as a deterrent and provide justice for the victims of these egregious crimes. As the bill progresses, it will drive conversation about the most effective and just ways to address and deter sexual violence against children in Idaho.


Protecting and Supporting the Columbia-Snake River System


The Idaho Legislature has passed Senate Joint Memorial 103 (SJM 103) advocating for the protection and support of the Columbia-Snake River System and its numerous benefits. It emphasizes Idaho’s sovereignty over its water resources and the critical role the river system plays in transportation, agriculture, hydropower generation, recreation, and wildlife habitat. It also opposes any efforts to remove or breach the dams within the system, highlighting the potential economic and environmental impacts of such actions.



Idaho Works to Revitalize School Facilities


In a move to improve the condition of public school facilities across Idaho, this bill proposes more than a  $1 billion investment over the next decade. This financial commitment addresses the pressing needs of “crumbling, leaking, falling apart” school infrastructure, marking a pivotal shift in the state’s approach to supporting its educational institutions.


The legislation, introduced in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, mixes tax and policy reforms, featuring approximately $150 million annually dedicated to school facility enhancements. It also includes provisions for individual and corporate income tax cuts, offering a comprehensive package of fiscal and educational reform.




Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Fentanyl Traffickers


The intent of the new law is to exact clear punitive penalties on manufacturers and traffickers who possess Fentanyl.  This law also adds clear provisions regarding drug-induced homicide. Advocates of the law believe that it will be a deterrent against the rising Fentanyl and opioid crisis.



Idaho Senate Statement on the Border Security


We stand firm in our support for Operation Esto Perpetua and the decision to deploy Idaho State Police troopers to assist at the southern border and help stem the tide of the border crisis. The crisis at our nation’s southern border isn’t a distant problem; its ripples are felt far and wide, reaching into the heart of Idaho. The unchecked flow of illegal narcotics, human trafficking, and the influx of weapons into our communities poses a significant threat to our safety and sovereignty. With the Biden administration’s inadequate response to this growing chaos, it’s incumbent upon states to step up and protect their citizens.



Immigration Reform Resolution Passed in the Senate


The Idaho Senate overwhelmingly approved Senate Joint Memorial 102 advocating for comprehensive federal immigration reform, emphasizing the need for targeted, business-focused measures to address border security and labor demands. The resolution criticizes Congress and the U.S. president for failing to ensure a secure border, highlighting the federal government’s constitutional obligation to protect the nation’s borders. It specifically rejects granting amnesty to undocumented individuals already in the United States and calls for modern technology to enhance border security. Also, included is a guest worker program to address labor needs in sectors like agriculture, food processing, and construction.