IDAHO LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: abortion bill, wolf elimination, veto override of governor’s powers, Powerball

Wolves are often implicated as the top predator affecting prey populations. photo submitted by National Park Service.

BOISE, Idaho (AP)

‘FETAL HEARBEAT’ ABORTION BILL HEADED TO GOVERNOR’S DESK

Legislation outlawing nearly all abortions in conservative Idaho by banning them once a fetal heartbeat can be detected is heading to Republican Gov. Brad Little.

The Republican-dominated Senate voted 25-7 on Wednesday to approve the measure that makes providing an abortion to a woman whose embryo has detectible cardiac activity punishable by up to five years in prison. It would also allow the woman who receives the abortion to sue the provider.

The bill has exceptions for rape, incest or medical emergency. Opponents of the bill say the exceptions are so vague or difficult to meet that they would often prevent abortions in those situations.

90% OF WOLVES COULD BE KILLED

The Idaho Senate has approved legislation allowing the state to hire private contractors to kill up to 90% of the wolves roaming Idaho.

The agriculture industry-backed bill approved Wednesday includes additional changes intended to cut the wolf population from about 1,500 to 150. Backers say there are too many wolves and they are attacking cattle, sheep and wildlife.

Opponents say the legislation threatens a 2002 wolf management plan involving the federal government that could ultimately lead to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service taking back control of managing the state’s wolves.

About 500 wolves have been killed in Idaho in each of the past two years.

VETO OVERRIDE OF GOVERNOR’S POWERS

The Republican-dominated House has overridden GOP Gov. Brad Little’s veto of a measure seeking to curb a governor’s power to respond to emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers voted 48-19 on Wednesday to attain the two-thirds threshold needed to override the veto and send the measure to the Senate. Its fate in the Senate is uncertain as lawmakers there on Monday opted not to override a veto of similar legislation to curb a governor’s emergency powers.

Supporters of the measures say the governor has too much power during emergencies. Opponents say the Legislature shouldn’t have emergency authority because it would be too slow to act during a time of crisis.

IDAHO POWERBALL STAYS

Powerball will continue in Idaho for at least another year despite an attempt by lawmakers to end the game in August over fears of foreign participation.

Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson told a House committee on Wednesday that negotiations to add Australia in 2021 and Britain in 2022 to Powerball had broken down and won’t happen until at least next year. That means Powerball in Idaho will continue past what had been expected to be an August end date.

Idaho lawmakers in March decided to withdraw Idaho from Powerball out of concern foreign leaders might use revenue generated from state coffers to back causes they oppose, like gun control.

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