April 24, 2019

3/22/2019 – Video: Rep. Rubel’s testimony against House Bill 277

  • Video: Check out my latest testimony against House Bill 277. A dangerous bill that places restrictions and sideboards on the voter-approved Medicaid Expansion.

3/20/2019 – OP-ED by Rep. Ilana Rubel – “Our leaders should represent voters, not muzzle them”

Senate Bill 1159, aptly nicknamed the “Revenge on Voters Act,” was introduced by GOP legislators in the wake of the successful Proposition 2 implementing Medicaid Expansion. It would nearly double the signature requirements while giving organizers a third of the collection time. Anyone that has worked on a ballot initiative here can attest — SB1159 is designed to completely shut down citizen-driven ballot initiatives in Idaho.

I worked on collecting signatures for Proposition 2 and can assure you – the current system for initiatives is incredibly difficult. Only 15 ballot initiatives have passed in over a century of Idaho history, about 1 every 8 years. We hardly have an epidemic of citizen activism that must be reined in. Getting Medicaid Expansion on the ballot required an unprecedented groundswell of citizen activism across the state. Thousands of volunteers knocked doors nights and weekends for a year, but even that Herculean effort would not have come close to qualifying Proposition 2 for the ballot under SB1159.

Our House GOP colleagues proclaimed last week that their caucus fully supports the Revenge on Voters Act, describing it in Orwellian fashion as “enhancing voter participation” and “protecting rural voters.” Nothing could be further from the truth. SB1159 disenfranchises voters, strips their constitutional rights, and would make Idaho the most restrictive state in the nation for ballot initiatives. You could collect signatures from 90 percent of registered voters and still not qualify. And far from protecting rural voters, this bill hurts them the most. Rural areas need more time to collect signatures because houses are further apart; SB1159 cuts the time from 18 months to 6 months. It ensures no rural areas could ever put forth ballot initiatives. Ironically, Proposition 2 helped rural communities most of all by saving rural hospitals — relief they would be denied had this bill been enacted.

A disturbing pattern has emerged in recent years. The GOP-dominated legislature will do something completely at odds with the people’s will. In 2011, they passed the Luna Laws, despite widespread opposition. From 2011 to 2018, they ignored public outcry and refused to even vote on Medicaid Expansion. Following both situations, voters responded to egregious disregard of their wishes by enacting ballot initiatives. And in both cases, the GOP-controlled legislature swiftly retaliated by severely restricting initiatives.

Voters shouldn’t be punished for passing Proposition 2. Citizens should never have had to volunteer tirelessly for a year to get action on such a critical item. It is the Legislature that should be blamed for refusing to address Medicaid expansion for seven years.

Rather than stripping voters’ Constitutionally protected initiative rights, we should be doing real soul-searching into the Legislative failures that made the voters’ work necessary. But many GOP legislators are still doing the opposite. They’re doubling down on the disregard of voter wishes. They’re still not funding Medicaid expansion, and are trying to force unpopular access restrictions into healthcare access that 61 percent of voters demanded. More than ever, voters need the ability to act directly when their leaders will not. We urge our Republican colleagues to abandon the Revenge on Voters Act. It is an ill-conceived and likely unconstitutional restriction of democracy in Idaho.

3/17/2019 – Video: Press conference on Senate Bill 1159 – the “Revenge on Voters Act”

  • Video: Minority Leadership press conference on SB1159 – the Revenge on Voters Act

3/1/2019 – Climate hearing announced / “Homeowner Solar Rights Bill” (House Bill 158) vote is Monday!

Following up on the well-received public hearing I hosted in 2017, Rep. Rob Mason and I are holding the first ever official committee hearing on climate change at 1:30 on March 6 in the House Energy, Environment & Technology Committee. If you want to send a message that the public cares about this issue, please come – we want to pack the house. High attendance speaks volumes.

Also, my “Homeowner Solar Rights” bill, HB158, is getting a full House vote on Monday. This bill would prevent HOA’s from unreasonably prohibiting homeowners from installing rooftop solar panels. Idaho is currently the only state in the West that does not have such a provision. You can easily email a message of support to the whole House here.

3/1/2019 – First Responders Legislation (Senate Bill 1028) heading to the Governor’s desk!

Rep. Mat Erpelding’s bill to provide workers’ compensation coverage for post-traumatic stress (SB1028) has passed both the House and the Senate and is headed to the Governor’s desk. Exciting news for our first responders!

3/1/2019 – Child marriage laws in Idaho (House Bill 98 / House Bill 170)

Two things happened yesterday that I feel undermine children’s safety. Idaho leads the nation in child marriage – it is legal here for a 40 year old to marry a 14 year old. Rep. Melissa Wintrow brought HB98 yesterday to raise the marriage age to 16 to conform to statutory rape laws, but it was shot down on the Floor.

Then, immediately afterward, the House passed HB170, which would prevent a Child Protection Services agent from asking children any questions without a warrant or parental permission. This could severely hamper the investigation of genuine child abuse, even when injuries or abuse are in plain view. It’s on its way to the Senate.

3/1/2019 – Progress blocked on early childhood education bill

The House Education Committee refused to even print an early childhood education bill, killing our hopes for progress on this front this year. Meanwhile, HB120, a bill that would require parents to affirmatively opt in to allow their kids to receive sex education, passed on a party-line vote (Democrats voting no) and is headed to the Floor.

3/1/2019 – Rep. Rubel’s bill for mandatory sentencing reform advances (House Bill 99)

HB99, my bill which would reform mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses by giving judges more discretion in sentencing, passed from committee and will be voted on by the full House on Monday. This one has strong bipartisan support – we’ll see what happens on the Floor.

3/1/2019 – Update of Medicaid expansion

I have been told that on Monday a bill will be introduced that would add work requirements to Medicaid, cause Medicaid Expansion to terminate upon any federal reimbursement rate adjustment and add other “sideboards” to Proposition 2 as passed by the voters. I anticipate this will become a very hot topic very quickly, especially if it makes it out of committee.

2/20/2019 – Update on Rep. Rubel’s “Homeowner Solar Rights Bill” (House Bill 158)

My “Homeowner Solar Rights” bill, HB158, was heard yesterday in the House Business Committee. This bill would prevent HOA’s from unreasonably prohibiting homeowners from installing rooftop solar panels – Idaho is currently the only state in the West that does not have such a provision, and it has led to our state lagging dramatically in solar power use. Despite overwhelming public testimony in support, it was sent to the Amending Order. Stay tuned – anything could happen from here.

Meanwhile, I am planning a hearing on climate change with Rep. Rob Mason to be held at 1:30 pm on March 6 in the House Energy, Environment & Technology Committee. Come if you can!