Capitol Letters: Sanctuary cities, student testimony


By Ryan Suppe, State Politics Reporter; and Hayat Norimine, Accountability Editor

Week four of Idaho’s legislative session begins.

But first, we catch up on last week. Friday’s legislative session began early in the morning with an anti-sanctuary cities bill.

‘Sanctuary cities’ for immigrants

A new Idaho bill would block local governments from limiting their cooperation with immigration law enforcement.

The legislation, from Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, says local governments and other public agencies can’t adopt, enforce or endorse a policy that blocks or discourages immigration law enforcement, such as asking subjects about their citizenship status or relaying citizenship information to federal agents.

So-called “sanctuary cities” have been “a problem” across the country, Foreman told the Senate State Affairs Committee Friday.

“I believe that breeds disrespect and contempt for the law,” he said. “I’m not saying we have a red hot problem with that in Idaho. At this time I don’t think we do.”

An Idaho city, county or other public agency hasn’t declared itself an immigration sanctuary jurisdiction, but multiple Idaho cities, including Eagle, Star and Nampa, have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuary cities, meaning residents would be permitted to defy laws that restrict gun ownership.

Foreman’s bill does not address defiance of laws related to firearms. Earlier this month, he introduced a bill to strip Idaho colleges of their authority to enforce gun restrictions on campus.

Senate Minority Leader Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, questioned whether Foreman’s bill is necessary.

“I’m still confused as to why we have a necessity to introduce such a bill if there’s not a problem in our state already,” Wintrow said. “We know that cities and counties aren’t really enforcing international borders.”

Student testimony restriction reversed

An Idaho lawmaker downplayed criticism of his recent decision to bar people under 18 from testifying in his committee on Friday, before he loosened the restrictions.

Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa, who chairs the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee this month announced he would prohibit anyone under 18 to testify on proposed legislation without permission from him or another lawmaker. Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, announced last week she would enforce the same rule in the House Local Government Committee, which she chairs.

On Friday, Skaug said he was modifying the rule, to allow people under 18 to testify, but instead of a committee members’ permission, they will need their guardian’s.

“There is a war in Ukraine, there’s food inflation causing financial pain to just about everyone, China is saber rattling with Taiwan, we have our Army National Guard, some of our people, serving in Syria in harm’s way,” the second-term Republican said. “But the biggest news in the newspaper lately has been this committee, on one of our rules. ... That kind of surprised me.”

Read Ryan’s full story here.

What to expect today

  • 8 a.m. Joint Finance-Appropriations. Budget discussions will include the Judicial Council and Division of Veteran Services.

  • 9 a.m. House State Affairs. Committee members will consider legislation on removing student ID cards “as a valid form of identification at the polls.” Rep. Vito Barbieri will also present legislation to amend House rules 6 and 10.

  • 3 p.m. Senate Education. On the agenda is draft legislation to repeal a section of the Idaho Constitution that forbids public money to support religious schools — also known as the Blaine Amendment.

Catch up on last session

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