Idaho Legislative Update: ‘heartbeat’ abortion ban, ballot harvesting, rental help, oversight of local monuments and place names

Republican state Rep. Mike Moyle addresses the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday, Feb, 9, 2021, in the Statehouse in Boise, Idaho. The committee approved a proposed law making it a felony for a third party to collect and return multiple ballots to election officials. (AP Photo/Keith Ridler)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) —


Legislation that would outlaw an abortion in Idaho once a fetal heartbeat is detected has been introduced. The Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday cleared the way for a hearing on the bill that would require doctors before performing abortions to try to detect fetal heartbeats.

If they are found, abortions would be prohibited except if a woman’s life is in danger or if the pregnancy is due to rape or incest.

Similar bills have passed in about a dozen states but are tied up in courts. Abortion rights advocates and opponents are waiting to see if the U.S. Supreme Court gets involved.


A proposed law making it a felony in Idaho for a third party to collect and return multiple ballots to election officials is headed to the full House. The House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday approved the measure involving “ballot harvesting” that has become a partisan flashpoint across the nation.

More than half of states allow a third party to collect ballots, and political groups and campaigns from both parties have run ballot-collection programs.

The proposed Idaho law limits who can handle more than two ballots to election officials, U.S. postal service workers and parcel delivery services. A family member would be allowed to deliver no more than two ballots.


Legislation to make permanent changes in Idaho’s absentee ballot counting has been introduced. The Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday voted to clear the way for a public hearing for the bill intended to speed absentee vote counting, which was used in the last general election and spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers during an August special session approved a law allowing the opening and scanning of absentee ballots beginning seven days before Election Day, but that law expired on Dec. 31. Election officials say the change allowed county clerks to quickly report results of the November election after receiving about 500,000 early and absentee ballots.


The Idaho Legislature’s budget committee has approved $175 million for emergency rental assistance stemming from people struggling to pay rent during the coronavirus pandemic. The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Monday voted 16-4 to approve the money that also requires approval in both the House and Senate.

The money is part of the $900 million in new coronavirus rescue money the state received in December but hasn’t yet allocated.

President Joe Biden last month extended a nationwide eviction ban to the end of March. It’s part of a plan to reduce the spread of the coronavirus by preventing people from falling into homelessness.


Legislation requiring cities, towns and schools to get permission from the Legislature to change the historic names of streets and parks or remove monuments or memorials has been approved by the House and is headed to the Senate. The House voted 51-19 Tuesday to approve the measure backers say is needed to prevent the altering of history through obliterating historic though imperfect figures.

Opponents say the proposed law is an affront in a state that prizes local control. Republican Rep. Doug Okuniewicz says the entire state should have a say in things such as renaming streets or removing monuments, not just the people who live near them.


Legislation to allow the Idaho treasurer to invest in gold and silver that must be physically stored in Idaho is heading to the full House. The House State Affairs Committee approved the legislation Tuesday that Republican Rep. Ron Nate says is a great way to protect against inflation.

Opponents say that precious metals as an investment are volatile, and there are much better investments to protect against inflation.

Opponents also say it will cost money to get the gold and silver to Idaho and then have ongoing costs to store it in a safe place.

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  • Blayne February 10, 2021 at 3:30 pm Reply

    Abortion is sick. It’s murder, plain and simple. And Democrats are so worried about protecting people from Covid, yet they murder thousands every year. Good job Dems, good job.

  • Barnabus February 12, 2021 at 2:10 pm Reply


    How many children have you adopted? Another way of looking at abortion, is that it might save a child from a lifetime of abuse and hunger.
    There are many things worse than death in life. I agree about the loss of potential, but if the anti abortionist are willing to foot the bill and help support those kids. You are just another cause of the problem and banning abortion is not a solution. So, do you freely wear a mask or chafe because the government tells you to?

    • Prince Albert February 13, 2021 at 3:24 pm Reply

      So Barnabus, you wear a mask alone in your car to show how much you care for others, but don’t mind murdering babies? And I pay lots of money through taxes to pay for supporting people who can’t or won’t support themselves. You know, like the EBT card that you have that is refilled each month for you. You’re welcome.

    • blayne February 13, 2021 at 10:56 pm Reply

      You have a warped perspective. Abortion can “save a child from a lifetime of abuse and hunger?” So why not just shoot people in the head who look like they are suffering? Wouldn’t we be “saving” them? No I don’t freely wear a mask. Not wearing a mask doesn’t have a direct consequence, abortion does.

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