Idaho Legislative Update: cow manure pollution, special session powers, axing COVID-19 from emergency list

FILE- In this March 11, 2009, file photo, a line of Holstein dairy cows feed through a fence at a dairy farm outside Jerome, Idaho. A Senate panel has approved legislation that's the product of more than 400,000 cows and some 50 million pounds a day of cow manure. The Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee voted Thursday, March 4, 2021, to send to the full Senate the bill requiring state officials to consider economic ramifications when imposing pollution regulations on farms and ranches, many of which produce cow manure. (AP Photo/Charlie Litchfield, File)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) —

COW MANURE POLLUTION

A Senate panel has approved legislation that’s the product of more than 400,000 cows and some 50 million pounds a day of cow manure.

The Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee voted Thursday to send to the full Senate the bill requiring state officials to consider economic ramifications when imposing pollution regulations on farms and ranches, many of which produce cow manure.

The bill is backed by the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Idaho Cattle Association and other agricultural groups. They say pollution regulations shouldn’t force companies out of business.

The legislation follows an unsuccessful attempt by agriculture groups to weaken current standards involving the amount of cow manure allowed on fields.\

SPECIAL SESSION CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

The Idaho Senate has approved a new version of a constitutional amendment allowing the part-time state Legislature to call itself into session.

Lawmakers voted 24-11 on Wednesday to clear the two-thirds majority needed for a proposed constitutional amendment that now goes to the House, where it will also need a two-thirds majority. It would go before voters in November 2022 if successful and would need a simple majority to win.

If voters approve, the Legislature could call itself back into session if 60% of lawmakers in each the House and Chamber agree. Currently, only governors can call special sessions.

AXING COVID-19 FROM EMERGENCY LIST

The Idaho House has passed legislation to define how severe an epidemic must be before it can qualify as a disaster — and the current coronavirus pandemic wouldn’t meet the criteria.

The bill passed 58-12 on a party-line vote Wednesday and would effectively exclude the coronavirus pandemic because not enough Idaho residents have died from it yet.

It’s part of a package of bills designed to shift power from the governor’s office to the state Legislature, all pushed by lawmakers angry over the actions Gov. Brad Little has taken to slow the spread of the virus.

Blackfoot Republican Rep. Julianne Young sponsored the legislation.

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