March 11th: E-Bikes and Historic Theaters
As we head into the home stretch of our legislative session this week, several major issues are yet to be decided:
SB1159 is a newly proposed bill that would severely restrict our ability to get a voter-backed initiative on a future ballot. On Monday morning, the Senate State Affairs Committee heard testimony on this egregious bill which would counter rights that are guaranteed to Idaho citizens in Article III of our State Constitution! There was so much testimony on this bill that the hearing has been continued until Friday, March 15th. See Betsy Russell’s article in the Idaho Press for a good summary of the testimony. And please CALL or SEND AND EMAIL to the members of the Senate State Affairs Committee if you do not want this bill to go forward! I have a spare bedroom if you need a place to stay if you want to come and testify.
HB249 is a bill that would add needless bureaucracy and cost to Medicaid Expansion (Sideboards). Last Friday, after four hours of testimony in the capital’s Lincoln Auditorium, all but one citizen testified against HB249. The bill will come up for a vote in the House Health and Welfare Committee this week. Please continue to contact all our legislators. Let them know you expect them to implement a clean Medicaid Expansion.
On Monday, March 4th I sponsored E-Bike legislation, which passed in the Senate with a unanimous vote. The bill now goes to the Governor to be signed into law. The legislation clarifies Idaho code with regard to E-bikes, a new category of bicycles that use a small electric motor to boost speed and power to the rider when needed. Transportation is an arena of rapid innovation and we need to update our laws to address such changes in technology. Current Idaho law does not adequately address the technological advances of e-bikes.
The bill defines for the first time [FL(3] three basic categories of e-bikes in the definition of an e-bike, all agreed on by bicycle manufacturers. The bill is intended to provide clarity for cities, counties, and the state to better regulate the use of e-bikes. It does not preempt local control. I sponsored this bill with the hope that, in the future, it will be easier to regulate this technology for safety on our roads and other public spaces where the bikes may be used.
On Thursday, Senator Michelle Stennett presented to the Senate, Representative Mat Erpelding’s bill on Historic Theaters. The bill passed with a 25-10 vote. It now heads to the Governor to be signed into law. The legislation allows theaters that are on the Historic Registry to sell beer and wine. In order to be covered by this legislation, theaters must have been built before 1950 and have been added to the National Registry of Historic Places. According to Sen. Stennett, “There are historic theaters all over the state that have incredible historic value.”
I spoke in favor of the bill because I support efforts to preserve the culture and history embodied in such buildings. And, I believe that our district will benefit from the provisions of this bill. In particular, the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre is one of Moscow’s most important landmarks. Should the Kenworthy’s Board decide to sell alcohol in the future, the income from sales will help with continuing preservation efforts.
Last week, the Senate passed Bill 1034, which is intended to make Oral Chemotherapy more affordable and accessible for cancer patients. One of the greatest benefits will be access to chemotherapy for people in rural areas of the state, where traveling regularly to a hospital for injection chemotherapy is a hardship, both physically and financially.
The legislation directs the Department of Insurance to include orally administered anti-cancer medication in state-regulated health plans at a co-insurance rate no more than the cost for injected or intravenously administered medication.
March 16 is the Idaho Democratic Party’s annual celebration at the Frank and Bethine Church Gala in Boise, so I won’t be home next weekend. If you’re in Boise next weekend, you are welcome to come join me!
On March 23rd I will be joining Representatives Troy and Goesling in Town Halls at:
9:00 am at the Moscow Chamber office, 411 S. Main Street.
the Deary Community Center on March 23rd at 1:00pm