Members of a divided House made drastic changes to a school safety bill Tuesday by trashing the original legislation and replacing it with gun rights language found in two other bills.
Senate Bill 1133 was originally sent out for amendments after members of the House Education Committee sought to make sure local police departments were not excluded from school safety planning. They also sought to address issues with public records disclosure and tried to include charter schools in the plan.
The original bill basically required local school boards and sheriffs to partner up and draft individual school safety plans and threat assessments.
But none of that survived Tuesday’s amending process.
Instead, the new bill removes references to school safety and rehashes stalled gun rights legislation from House Bills 280 and 219 – which the Senate has not acted on following the bills’ passage in the House.
The new version of the bill states: “A firearm, a firearm accessory or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in Idaho and that remains within the borders of Idaho is not subject to federal law or federal regulation.”
Members of the House Education Committee did not discuss any of those changes March 20 when they sent the school safety bill out for amendments.
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Nevertheless, several House Education Committee members including Chairman Reed DeMordaunt and Reps. Cindy Aigidus, R-Moscow; Linden Bateman; R-Idaho Falls; Judy Boyle, R-Midvale; Steven Harris, R-Meridian; and Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, stood to support the amendments.
Rep, Wendy Horman, an Idaho Falls Republican who co-sponsored the original school safety bill, opposed the new language Tuesday. Horman said the original bill would have died in committee March 20 if lawmakers did not sent it out for changes. She said she worked diligently to get the changes written – attempting to satisfy objections made last week by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, Idaho Press Club and Idaho chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
But Horman didn’t receive confirmation of approval on the new language from the ACLU until lunchtime Tuesday.
House members took up the changes immediately after lunch, and by that time it was too late.
“We took a risk in sending it to the amending order to try to get something done this year that all parties could agree to,” Horman said after the vote.
Under legislative rules, any House member may propose amendments to bills while they are in the House’s amending order.
Rep. Neil Anderson, R-Blackfoot, asked for a ruling before the vote on whether the proposed changes would be “germane” to the original bill.
Assistant Minority Leader Brent Crane, R-Nampa, ruled it was permissible, saying there was a “nexus” between school safety and firearms.
Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, worked with Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, to push the gun rights language changes into the bill. Monks said his intention was to allow the Senate to have another chance to consider the language from House Bill 280, which the Senate has not considered since it passed the House 61-7 on March 14.
The changes mean the school safety bill – as it was originally written to require district and law enforcement to draft safety plans – is dead. Because legislative leaders hope to adjourn for the year Friday, the amended gun rights bill may face long odds for passage. It would need to clear the full House with the new language and head back to the Senate for full consideration and approval.