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Care needed to see true intent of proposed laws
January 29, 2018
By District 1 Representative Heather Scott

During the legislative session the halls and the Rotunda are always full of citizens promoting their ideas and agendas to legislators. It is a great opportunity to learn how government works and how legislation effects individuals and groups. Last week was the deadline for personal bill introductions in the House.

To date over 150 bills have been started in the House or Senate. Just a quick reminder of how the process works: bills must get voted out of the appropriate committee, pass on the floor of one body (House or Senate) and repeat the process through the other body.

Only after a bill has been passed by both the Senate and the House will it make it to the Governor's desk for a final signature. Each year about 300-400 bills are turned into law.

Recently, Idaho legislators and citizens have been lobbied hard by a narrowly focused out-of-state group to change to the Idaho State Constitution concerning victims’ rights.

The proposed change, called “Marsy’s Law,” originated from a California billionaire.

The attempt to push this legislation through during the final few weeks of last year’s session failed, and this year the group has returned with renewed efforts. Legislators expect to see a similar draft again this year.

Millions of dollars are being pumped into Idaho for this endeavor and the group is resorting to displaying the accompanying photo to bully those legislators who have expressed concerns with the language from last year.

There are usually lots of attempts to spread mis-information during an election year, and it is an election year.

The marketing tactics of this group are disturbing! Playing on citizens' emotions and not providing factual information about the pros and cons of the wording of the law should make us all question what the true agenda may be.

While the language in this year’s attempted legislation has not been publicly released, last year’s proposed legislation would have made a constitutional change allowing government to grant victim rights and potentially give corporations and businesses victim rights status. Idahoans should know that all rights come from God --not government!

The South Dakota legislature, one of six states to pass the amendment last year, is now attempting to repeal the constitutional change because of unintended consequences now coming to light.

While I believe most legislators would strongly support the individual rights of victims and would be willing to strengthen existing victim status in our current code, I believe allowing government to define rights goes too far.

That is why I and other conservative legislators have joined together and are planning to release an alternative bill this week which will clearly define how government should treat victims instead of letting government grant rights to victims. The Idaho version of this alternative proposed legislation is called the Idaho Victim Protection Act.

This language will offer real protection for victims without trampling the rights of individuals and advancing progressive centralized government agendas. It is written by Idahoans who want real pertinent laws providing victims’ rights and proper treatment of victims throughout the judicial process.

Please watch for the release of this legislation next week and join us in supporting honest and fair victim protection legislation here in Idaho.

There will be lots of bills moving through committees throughout the next few weeks. We expect to see bills on Medicaid expansion, tax reform, castle doctrine, CBD oil and more.

I will update you in my next newsletter on how they are progressing. Thanks for reading and staying informed with your state government.
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